No One is a Failed Experiment

meanHow are children and teens supposed to stay away from Cyber-Bullying when there are so many adults doing it. Today I ran across a link from KTVB about a woman who had been arrested. I don’t care what she was arrested for, she did something wrong and the Boise Police Department are taking care of it. What drove me nuts were the responses on the post. I have never had a mug shot, but I am guessing it wouldn’t be the most flattering picture. I mean it’s not like they give you time to touch up your make up or comb your hair. In most cases you are probably not even sober (in this case) and usually being drunk is super attractive…not… Just because she doesn’t look like your normal housewife that surrounds us does not mean she is ugly. How do you decide what is pretty and what is ugly, or as someone said a “failed experiment.”  I can tell you none of us were an experiment and no one deserves to be called a failed experiment. No matter the mistakes we make in life, we are still human. We never know the behind the scenes of someone’s life. I don’t know if she has seen any of these comments or if she ever will, but I hope she doesn’t. The internet is not a place to share the thoughts that would be considered rude in person. Your words are hurtful. Maybe when her ordeal is over she will realize that she needs to fix some things in her life, let us lend her encouragement mean 2instead of hate. I ask you which one is more motivating? The next time you come to a post on the internet, whether it be a mug shot, the “ugliest” person in the world, or the high school skank, leave them a nice comment or no comment. A click can take a life, and the correlation of cyber-bullying and suicide is growing. Think before you click!

I Was a Bully.

yellow flowersI was a hellion growing up. I was not always a nice goody-goody girl, I had a mean streak. I remember walking home one day with two other boys. These boys had hard lives and were a little rough around the edges, they had an idea to start throwing rocks at people going past. It was my turn, instead of saying no, I picked up the rock and I threw it. My t-ball years had paid off (unfortunately) and I hit a girl riding her bike, right in the head. She wobbled and then toppled off. My heart sank. I was torn between two things, fitting in with the boys and being kind. I felt guilt. I got home and didn’t say a word about it to anyone, hoping I could forget. The next day at school, I was called into the principles’ office. It was a scary thing, I was at a brand new school, and I had only been there for a few days. The principal asked me why I did it and even thought it was a witty comeback… “It wouldn’t have hurt if she was wearing a helmet,” to this day I regret my action. I don’t regret it because I got in trouble. Literally, I have never seen my mother so mad, she marched her way down the street, grabbed me by the arm, and walked me home. I spent the day in my room. I regret it because I missed an opportunity to be kind to those around me.

I thought I had learned my lesson but a year later I fell into a similar trap. Once again I was being a bully. I was still hanging out with the rougher kids, and I still did not excel at making friendships with girls. I don’t know if it because I felt threatened by them or because I was that insecure, whatever the reason it doesn’t make it right. I had started playing the trumpet. There was another girl in my grade who started to play as well. My parents had rented me a nice one and I felt very proud about it. There were no scratches, and it was shiny. The other girl’s trumpet was not as nice as mine, and I made sure she knew it. Later, I found out how much I had really hurt her feelings. I apologized years later, but it is something to this day I still regret. Who am I to judge?

A few years later…”I got what I deserved.” I was bullied. Some girls ganged up on me and started rumors about me that were crude and not even a little bit true. It caused me a lot of grief. It made me a different person. I sometimes hated myself because, I began to believe those things flying around about me. It was a hard to shake those feelings, but I was able to find people who were willing to show me kindness.

When the reality of my actions set in, and my own wounds were healing, I decided to change, I was always going to look for ways to be kind… To Everyone. To make someone’s day better. I am still not a professional, and I still have moments when I think, I shouldn’t have done that. Instead of waiting years now when I make a mistake, I go straight to the person and apologize. Whether it is a CEO of a company or someone who is homeless, I strive to treat them with kindness. Today, I watched a video that reminded me of my bullying days, and days I was made to feel like nothing. It was a powerful video that highlighted very real things. As many of you know I am very passionate about anti-bullying and anti-cyber bullying. There is never a life that is worth less than yours, so don’t make them feel that way. You have a choice, don’t be the bully, be the one who sticks up for others. Watch this video, I know it has an LDS religious tone to it, but the overall message is what matters.

Featured in Perspectives

Today, I am flattered. I was looking through some old Utah State things and found this gem. I had no idea it had been published. They had approached me during my Senior year of college about featuring me in the magazine, but I didn’t know it really happened. The Perspectives Magazine happens once a semester and I was featured in Fall 2013 on page 17. It is a true honor!

While reading through it, it reminded me of some of the goals that I am aspiring to accomplish. I really do have a passion for equal rights. Some of my of my feeling inferior came from studying computer science, the field is predominantly male. If I ever made a mistake it was because I was a woman, I even was asked if I was taking the classes to find a rich husband… The reason  I wanted to work towards this degree was because of a female professor who had inspired me. Professor Duhadway. She was a female programmer, she taught me the history of the subject and the basics of computer programing. I was always impressed by her and wanted to have her talent. Once I started taking the upper division classes, those dreams slowly diminished as the only female in the class, with know one willing to actually teach me. It was very frustrating, and after an internal battle with myself wanting to prove myself and being successful, I dropped out. I decided to take another route, I would pioneer my own way into the cyber world. I would take on Social Media. I finished my degree in Communications and have gone on to work a full-time job as a Social Media Consultant. It has been a roller coaster that I have enjoyed. I am so glad that my education helped prepare me for the real world. Can’t wait until some of these goals become a reality!Perspectives

Combating Hate with Love: Cyber Bullying

TJ Pratt Anti Cyber Bullying Two days ago I saw a post from one of my friends at Utah State on my Facebook feed and became interested about #TaylorVail. She had been cyber bullied. This is something that I am very passionate about. I am a firm believer of “think before you click.” I wasn’t able to find the original messages that were sent to Taylor Vail. At first I thought, I need to know what the bully said! After reading the article and watching the video, I realized that Taylor and her family did what was right. They focused only on the positive, a new trend in combating cyber bullying. Her father, an employee of my Alma Mater Utah State, took a stand against cyber bullying and encouraged people to #bepostive. Her twitter feed exploded with comments that would make anyone smile ear to ear. I wish that being positive and kind was the norm, and that it did not have to be encouraged. These reactions should be our natural instincts. Taylor’s story is a great example of turning a potentially negative situation into one with endless positive possibilities. Taylor is a hero because of this: she said she did not want to know who said those mean things, she wishes that the bully would receive the same over pouring of positivity that she has received. She truly was able to combat hate with love.

Speak Until You Are Heard: Stop the Bullying

Caine Stands Up from The Bully Project on Vimeo.

While browsing through Facebook this morning, I stumbled upon this video that made me smile because of this kids courage. Caine, a young boy who is tormented at school decided to take a stand. He took the violence out of bullying retaliation, and decided to speak. When it comes to any type of bullying the most important part is to speak up. Tell someone that you are being bullied, if they don’t listen, tell someone else! Speak until you are heard. Let’s put a stop to bullying.

Maryland Leaping to Save Lives

Clare Vaterlaus Anti Cyber BullyingMaryland school systems will be piloting a new program to deter cyber bullying and the effects that it has on teens. The program was officially announced by Attorney General Doug Gansler, on the morning of October 3, 2013. Each school will appoint a single point person for direct communications with Facebook. The program will identify content on students pages and decide whether it is appropriate or not and abrasive towards other students. If the school stumbles upon something questionable, the appointed spokesperson contacts Facebook directly. “For the first time, Facebook will actually take that language off of Facebook (Gansler).” Depending on the situation and the severity of the bullying law enforcement will be contacted. The Attorney General also stated “If you’re the perpetrator of the cyber bullying, you’re not committing a crime. We’re not going to go after you, but we are going to take down the language off of Facebook, because there’s no redeeming societal value and it’s clearly hurting somebody (Gansler).” Gansler said himself that this would not eliminate cyber bullying, however I think that this is a great step forward. This pilot program will identify the cowards behind their screens and prevent tragedy before it happens. This is an exciting development especially during anti-cyber bullying awareness month. Always remember, think before you click!

One Click Can Ruin a Life

Cyber Bullying- Clare VaterlausOctober is the month to make people aware of Cyber Bullying and the effects that it can have on young people. Throughout my college career I spent most of my time in my women’s and gender classes studying about cyber bullying and the lasting effects that it can have. It is the silent killer, it is something that most parents don’t see coming. It doesn’t leave physical marks, only deep emotional wounds. We are all familiar with the classic school yard bully like Biff from Back to the Future, Regina from Mean Girls, and Farkus the fiery red head from A Christmas Story. These bullies have one thing in common; they are in your FACE! Their actions can be seen by others, and the victims can be recognized.  Today’s cyber bullies are masters of stealth and have the ability to tear someone down with the touch of a button. They are cowards as they hide behind their screens, and torment their peers. “According to 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three teens report being bullied, and one in two students report being cyber bullied (PRWEB).” The statistic is astounding and devastating. ONE of every TWO teens has been cyber bullied. What we need to teach is that one click can ruin a life. It is time to take a stand and be a friend instead of a bully. Like Brian Taylor, President and CEO of Scenario Learning stated, “Every child deserves to go to school free of fear.” If you are a victim seek help, and if you are a bully it is time to STOP.

Anti-Cyber Bullying Awareness Month

Clare Vaterlaus-Anti Cyber Bullying Month

Clare Vaterlaus- Cyber Bullying ChartToday marks the start of one of my favorite months of the year, October. There are many who share this love. Perhaps they love scary movies and feel the need to watch even the Human Centipede (don’t Google unless you want to throw up). There are others who take obsessive amounts of pictures of gourds (follow kenzilawlor on instagram) and let’s not forget our Pinterest pumpkin flavored obsessed friends. For me, the smell of fall means ANTI-CYBER BULLYING AWARENESS MONTH!!! I have a deep passion for putting a stop to cyber bullying. Many are still unaware of what cyber bullying is, I have included Google’s definition. As the death toll of cyber-bully victims rise, it is evident something needs to be done. Cyber bullying is often questioned because it is “behind the scenes,” sometimes the things that are hidden are what hurts the most. Having the ability to sit behind a computer screen and type whatever one feels, especially in anonymity is dangerous. It is vital to THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK, once something is sent, it can never be taken back. There are many great resources available for those being bullied that will be discussed throughout October. Together we can raise awareness and help spread the knowledge to end cyber bullying.

Clare Vaterlaus- Cyber Bullying Chart