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Nate Berkus: Be a Hero for Bullied Youth, Give a Damn!

Nate Berkus: Be a Hero for Bullied Youth, Give a Damn!

Interior designer and television show host Nate Berkus recently recorded a message for the Give a Damn project, drawing attention to the issue of bullying and imploring that everyone take the time to be hero in a young person’s life, because it really could make a difference.

Transcript:

[Nate Berkus speaks directly to camera:]

When kids are perceived as being different they must deal with a world at school, online and even at home, that can be cruel and hateful. Sometimes the loneliness, rejection and taunting can become so overwhelming they feel like suicide is the only option to end the pain.

It’s time that each of us step up and help a young person who thought they had no place and no one to turn to. It only takes one person to notice when a kid is struggling, one adult to intervene, and be hero in a young person’s life.

We all have to get involved.

We all have to give a damn.

I give a damn.

Do you?

Join us at wegiveadam.org to learn more.

The video, which premiered late last year as part of the “Rebuilding Home After Tragedy” episode of Nate’s The Nate Berkus Show, appeared alongside an interview with Wendy Walsh, the mother of 13-year-old Seth Walsh who committed suicide after being bullied because he was gay. You can watch the emotional interview with Seth Walsh’s mom and brother here.

Since her son’s death, Wendy Walsh has recorded her own ACLU-backed PSA talking about Seth’s final days, his suicide note and the need for LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying legislation in schools, and tougher anti-bullying legislation overall. 

The Give a Damn project website houses resources on a spectrum of LGBT-related issues, including education, bullying, housing, LGBT elder-issues, health care and more.  Below are links so you can connect with the Give a Damn project:

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45 comments

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6:57AM PST on Jan 16, 2011

Bullying is about domination, power, and humans trying to crush one another. It just takes one person to help rebuild what has been torn down. Thanks for the message.

2:17PM PST on Jan 10, 2011

Why are American high schools so much like American prisons? What I mean is the machismo factor and the queer baiting by closet cases. Really high schools are close to being like a rally for Westboro Baptist Church, where all the usual suspects - gays; non-Christians; fat kids; mental defectives; crazy people; etc. - are dehumanized much like in Nazi Germany. The teachers are too chicken to step in and tell the thugs to stop their idiocy, because half or more of Congress is opposed to all teachers. Even if it costs you guys your jobs, teachers, you have to start to make risky moves to educate and protect the vulnerable youth. If you don't, why aren't you doing some other worthless bureaucratic task like working for the IRS?

5:40PM PST on Jan 8, 2011

Thanks for this post. Let's all "give a damn" about how we treat each other!

11:10AM PST on Jan 8, 2011

Eddie, I'm really sorry for what you went through in your childhood and I'm sure it's something you'll remember for the rest of your life. I was never bullied per se, but when I was 15, my family moved from New Jersey to Michigan, and to a more upscale community than the one I had grown up in. Although I had many friends at my previous school, I was had a terrible time at the new one. On the first day, kids made fun of my eastern accent, no one made any attempt to befriend or even be nice to me probably because I was new and didn't have the "right" friends or wear the "right" clothes. It continued like this for the next 2-1/2 years. I wasn't bulled -- I was just totally ignored and friendless. (Fortunately, I still had letters and occasional visits from my old friends in New Jersey.) When I went away to college at 18, things were completely different. I made friends immediately and had a great time, so I knew there was nothing wrong with me -- it was the snobbish jerks at my high school.

That was more than 40 years ago, but I still think about it from time to time. Although it was a hellish time in my life, it definitely reinforced for me how important it is to be kind to people, to be friendly and welcoming to new people in your group, and to stand up for those you see being bullied or treated unfairly. There is never an excuse to behave otherwise.

5:56AM PST on Jan 8, 2011

Well said, Nate. The more people that stand up against youth bullying the better place schools and everywhere else will be.

8:18AM PST on Jan 7, 2011

At last, this problem is out in the open, so steps can be taken to prevent these tragedies.

This abuse must stop, and we adults have to ensure our children know where to turn for help and support.

1:21AM PST on Jan 7, 2011

Check out PLF's sister company, YVI www.youthvoiceinitiative.org

11:19PM PST on Jan 6, 2011

Bullies are bullies because SOMEONE encourages it. They are bullies because no one stands up to them & it is usually LEARNED BEHAVIOR. They have watched their father bully their mother and treat her with disrespect. They have watched the males in their lives be disrespectful & more than likely their role models are homophobic too.
One of the best scenes in A Christmas Story to me, was when the kid finally had enough & took on Schwartz the bully. He beat him up and hurled every curse word his dad had ever said at this bully. The bully is chastened and crying and even his toadies wouldn't have anything to do with him.

Again, Eddie, I am so sorry that your childhood or teen years had these bullies in them. I hope that you had friends who helped you get through it. The pain is telling 35 years later & the damage they did to your teeth/mouth must have been painful too. I hope they were at least made to pay for your dental bills & that they were disciplined for their actions. That was NOT bullying - that was ASSAULT plain & simple.

I wish you friends, loved ones, health, wealth & success this year and every other.

11:10PM PST on Jan 6, 2011

It is much easier for people to take up for someone who is bullied just because - they are passive, they are fat, they are thin...we have all dealt with, been victims of or have victimized other teens because of something. I was a chunky kid - but I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town & a small school. When your group is tiny, they tend to stick together & I can truthfully say at 62 that most of us still stick together whenever we can.
I am really sorry that you were victimized. That must have been painful physically as well as emotionally & mentally. You were passive...can you imagine what those 2 bullies would have done to you if - in addition to being passive - you were also gay? Well, I can tell you that you might not even be alive to tell about it. You are correct in that a bully is a bully is a bully. However when bullies go after a fat kid, or a thin kid or whatever else they decide is fair game that week - they are going after an individual type of kid & usually one who is passive & they know this guy will take it. But with LBGT kids, they are already on the outside looking in & it is so much more devastating...If you are fat, you can loose weight; if you wear glasses, you can get contacts; if you are skinny, you can gain weight - but if you are gay - you can't change that - You are gay & no amount of beating or bullying will change it. That is why it is BAD, (cont).

9:20PM PST on Jan 6, 2011

As a victim of 2 horrific bullies, 35 years ago, I know how bad it can be. I lost part of my scalp, and my front tooth broke off and came through my upper lip when my face was smashed into the pavement. I was passive, and that was all it took to bring the nightmares upon me.
I am sorry to say, this topic is not about anything else but people who bully LG people. They are looking for sexual specific laws protecting homosexuals, and as long as they are protected, they could care less about anyone else.
I personally think that is pretty freaking selfish, and I also believe that every child deserves the same amount of protection, no matter who he is.

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