Jane Clementi, the mother of Tyler Clementi and founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, encourages the community to prevent bullying in schools, workplaces, religious communities and online, and to fight LGTB inequality.
Like Channing Smith, Coffee County Central High School student who took his own life Sept. 22, Tyler died by suicide. Tyler, who was a student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, died Sept. 22, 2010, at the age of 18, after being cyberbullied due to his sexuality.
Tyler’s story has ignited a movement to end anti-gay bullying. His mother’s nonprofit, the Tyler Clementi Foundation, launched The #Day1 Campaign, which is an initiative aiming to end bullying before it begins. The Tyler Clementi Foundation also has created an Upstander Pledge in order to hold people responsible for standing up to bullies.
Advice for Channing’s family and the community
“Finding peace and healing after the unexpected, senseless and tragic loss of a beloved friend or family member from suicide is extremely difficult and usually a lifelong endeavor.” Clementi said.
“I encourage all members of the community, especially those who are struggling with extreme sadness and despair to seek out professional mental health assistance to help deal with this huge loss. As a community, one way to honor Channing’s death would be to ensure no other person is ever targeted because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, body shape or size, ethnicity, their abilities, or whatever makes them special and precious.”
Now is the time to learn from this sad situation and make positive changes, said Clementi.
“Learn from this tragedy and implement anti-bullying initiatives in your school, workplaces and faith communities.”
Preventing bullying in schools and online
It’s essential for the community to try to prevent bullying, said Clementi.
“One simple way to create a culture of kindness and respect is to use the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s #Day 1 initiative,” she said. “It is an easy, simple and effective way for a leader of a community or classroom to set clear boundaries of words and behaviors that are and are not acceptable in that group.
“The tool then articulates clearly the values that an organization or school considers important. Finally, the leader asks each individual to be an active Upstander, and not a passive Bystander – someone who will stand up and speak out when they see someone being humiliated or targeted.”
To learn about the foundation, visit tylerclementi.org.