Campaign fights teen bullying
In recent years there has been a devastating surge in the number of teen suicides throughout the country, many as a result of the constant bullying and torture that these youth have endured at the hands of their peers.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, more than 34,000 suicide deaths occurred in 2007, and for every successful suicide there were anywhere between 8 to 25 others attempted.
The Nobody’s Perfect Campaign is a nonprofit organization, founded this year by Dominique Garrett and Clarissa Ricks, which focuses on raising awareness against teen bullying and teen suicide.
“With alarming statistics such as suicide being the leading cause of deaths among teenagers, the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, and the fourth leading cause of death for 10- to 14-year-olds, this is something our world needs to address now,” the organization says in its mission statement.
Nobody’s Perfect hopes that through their efforts they can help people– victims and bullies alike– to realize that life does get better by showcasing the importance of self-love and driving home the fact that nobody is perfect.
“I talked to one of my friends that I grew up with a couple of days prior to starting the organization, and we were talking about how our group of friends had tortured her when we were younger, and how we had made her feel really insecure about herself. I’m not that person anymore, but I felt like this would be a good way to fix some things that I probably put a lot of people through when I was younger,” Garrett stated apologetically. “That, coupled with all of the media reports of teen suicides, encouraged me to move forward with the organization.”
In the coming year the organization plans to go into schools across the country to educate students, parents, teachers and law enforcement on bully control through interactive workshops, teaching acceptance, compassion and understanding.
As part of its first major effort, the nonprofit held a photo-shoot and asked people to “donate their insecurities.” The shoot photographed participants in a sort of “plain Jane” fashion, requiring all to wear blue jeans, white T-shirts and no makeup. Then these brave individuals were asked to pose with a large sign which had one of their insecurities written on it.
The purpose of the shoot was to celebrate and embrace self-acceptance and self-love, while acknowledging that even those whom society might view as the most beautiful of people have insecurities.
By stressing this fact, it is hoped that individuals who are contemplating suicide will give life a fighting chance. It is hoped that individuals who are bullies will recognize the errors of their ways and identify the demons which live inside themselves.
“My mission is to teach self-appreciation, because once you’ve accomplished that it doesn’t matter what others say about you,” said Garrett. Then we will embrace everything about ourselves perfect and un-perfect, the things we want to change and the things we want to stay the same. If you can get to a point where you truly accept everything about yourself, even the things you don’t necessarily love, then no one can say anything to make you want to commit suicide.”
The organization isn’t about the victims alone. It also reached out to the bullies themselves, giving them an opportunity to change, apologize, and maybe even save a life. “If You Are Out There” is an aspect of the campaign that allows bullies to do a video apology letter to the person, or people, that they have negatively impacted. The organization then posts the videos on YouTube in the hopes that the victims and their families will get a reprieve.
Saturday, Dec. 4, the Nobody’s Perfect Campaign will hold a red carpet photo release party at Citizen Smith in Hollywood. At the event the photos from the shoot will be revealed for the first time and those not a part of the original shoot will be given the opportunity to donate their insecurity and have their photos taken professionally. The red carpet event, which will have no cover charge will also feature music, drinks, and a cozy lounge atmosphere for all in attendance.
If you saw “The Blind Side,” which is the story of Michael Oher (offensive tackle of this year’s Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens), then you know that he was played by acting newbie Quinton Aaron.
It’s hard to imagine that Aaron, who now stands 6 feet 8 inches, was ever bullied. And yet, as he revealed in a recent phone interview, “I was a skinny kid in those [nerdy]-looking glasses” who was regularly bullied. “Then it became verbal abuse . . . until I learned how to defend myself,” he added.
Founded by Elissa Kravetz, The Farley Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading a message of love, kindness and inclusion in schools and camps throughout the country, is on a mission to help make the ever-increasing trend of bullying a thing of the past.
This nonprofit has been in the making ever since Kravetz was first bullied in the seventh grade.
I hope you watched “Extreme Home Makeover" on Dec. 2, as I did. For me it was an opportunity of pride, as Bennett student Dominique Walker was featured with her family, on a trip to Los Angeles and a home upgrade. Why? Because her family remained in pain because their 11-year-old son and brother killed himself after vicious bullying.
October is International Bullying Month, and there seems to be a case about bullying on major and local television networks every week.
Najee Ali, director of the civil rights group Project Islamic HOPE, has filed a second federal civil rights complaint with United States Attorney Andre Birotte’s central district office concerning the racially motivated attack and taunting with a noose of a Black teen at Santa Monica High School.
Principal Hugo Pedroza, Superintendent Tim Cuneo, and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School district are named in the complaint.