September 9, 2011
Dear Friend and Community Members,
Like many others, we at HREC are terribly concerned over the recent crimes committed against three gay men in our community. Times like these I find myself infused with amyriad of emotions. I am so angry that gay-bashing remains a sport for some misguided and hateful people. I am so filled with concern for the victims and their families, as well as for scores of friends and families that could easily be the next target. I am frustrated that ignorance and apathy remain at cause for needless violence and terror.
However, in contrast, I am proud to stand with so many in our community who are rising to say HELL NO! I am again, passionately reminded of the inherent rights every human being deserves and the ongoing necessity for teaching fairness, compassion, empathy and inclusion. So, even with an angry and heavy heart HREC keeps on keeping on. Since 1999 we have teaching empathy and equity, won’t you join with us?
The Human Rights Education Center of Utah
October 15, 2010
These tragic deaths are evidence of the harsh consequences of bullying gone unchecked. The truth be known, there are more bullying events perpetrated on young people than are ever reported, and those that are reported are often not taken seriously. How could we not act upon the unrelenting torture inflicted upon kids by bullies? While I welcome the long awaited attention on the deadly consequences of bullying behaviors, I am mad as hell that we have to wait until a rash of young people kill themselves before a public outcry ensues. Bullying has long been largely ignored, and accepted as normative behavior. Perhaps now we will begin to address bullying as the prolific epidemic that it is. I am reminded of the insidiousness of apathy, the danger in believing there is nothing one person can do, or the just plain selfishness of anyone who proclaims that bullying is not their problem. How can allowing young people to be unkind, if not blatantly vicious, not be the problem of all adults in a civil society? Is it not our responsibility to educate, model and insist on moral and ethical behavior from our youth? Is it not part and parcel of our common humanity to keep our young people safe?
Sadly, bullying behaviors are on the rise due to the easy access of technology. As the majority of young people today are tethered to their technology it is painfully clear that texting, sexting, instant messaging and social networking sites are allowing bullies a 24/7 opportunity to inflict harm on others. And make no mistake, that they are doing just that. Rumors, explicit and photo shopped pictures, sexual innuendos and lies…all easily perpetrated by tech savvy kids. The lack of maturity in the teen brain can make the young person unaware of the lurking dangers made manifest with a simple click of a mouse or cell phone keypad. That simple gesture can boomerang and that “prankster” can become labeled as a sexual predator or a killer. We must educate about the dangers of irresponsible communication through cyberspace. We pass laws that insist that young people study for a driver’s license or to get a gun permit. Then why do we allow them access to sophisticated technology without properly educating them about the dangers that could be inflicted upon themselves and others?
As an adult, a parent and grandparent I am ashamed that nothing was done to help those sweet lives now gone. To their memory I make the commitment that HREC will keep working to educate youth and their leaders of the importance of bullying prevention education. As a nonprofit community organization we will continue to demand that every child be kept safe from bullies, or from becoming a bully. Bullying is a complex societal problem, but teaching and practicing the golden rule are not. We just have to make it a priority.
Executive Director, The Human Rights Education Center of Utah