The last time the Teen visited our local park with his friends, he was sent home by two kindly police officers. Not because he or his friends were breaking any laws, nor were they being a nuisance or causing any harm, but because there was another person in the park who was spraying graffiti on the toilet block, spraying graffiti the toilet block soon turned to violent vandalism in the form of kicking in the toilet doors. When the police arrived, the threats of violence escalated and the police officers moved my son and his mates on for their own safety while they diffused the situation.
When my son arrived home, my first thoughts were those of anger, can my kid not even visit the park anymore for crying out loud? Is nowhere safe?
I was grateful to the police for removing my son from danger, however there was a part of me that was angry that my son had to be removed.
I want the danger removed. I want too want support for the person committing these dangers. What has life given them that makes them so.. No one is born a jerk you know?
The group of friends disbanded and they took to their rooms, sported headphones and continued their conversations over Skype and IM, you know, where it’s safe. *Rolls eyes.
Like it or not the internet has become our children’s playground. For various reasons, we have failed them in providing clean and safe streets. We have fallen short of being able to send them out until the street lights come on. It can’t stop us sending our kids out on their bikes to hang out at the park. Our worries may be greater but it can’t stop us, we need to fight tooth and nail to keep our playgrounds safe for our kids. To not remove our children from danger, but have zero tolerance for it, and remove the danger from our kids.
From all of their playgrounds, including the internet.
Anyone who has spent any time putting themselves out there on line has been subjected to some sort of backlash, anonymous comments, anonymous emails, nasty tweets and other vitriol eating away at the fabric of the internet. It happens every day.
While I thankfully have developed a very thick skin when it comes to trolling, I can’t forget that it had to develop.
There was a time when I took every criticism to heart, I couldn’t understand why someone would take time out of their day to tell me I was a fucking asshole and I should give up, or suck a cock, or die.
I admit that some of the things directed at me would make me cry. My children would see me cry and I used the opportunity to have a completely open and honest conversation about cyber hate with my children.
I told them that people say hurtful things and sometimes that is upsetting, I used it as a reminder that there is someone on the receiving end of hateful remarks on the internet, a person, not just a screen name and they should never knowingly make others feel that way, and if they were ever on the receiving end, that they could talk to me. That I would understand that I could help and they never had a need to keep quiet about these things.
If I spent any time feeling that way, and I like to think I have a healthy self esteem, a supportive, loving family and many beautiful friends, the insight to know that for every person who say’s something nasty, there are 100 more people who love what I write, and the support of people in my industry whom gave me a solid dose of support and insight when I was needy and repulsive and whiny.
Even at my age, and with knowing these things, and with the support I had, my thick skin took a long time to develop.
How the hell do we expect our kids to deal with it?
I am not going to weigh into the Charlotte debate. I think weighing in on something so complex with such little knowledge would be an insult.
I will say though, that I will fight tooth and nail to make sure that all of my children’s playgrounds are safe. The term, ‘If you can’t handle it, get of the internet, or ‘if you are going to put yourself out there then you have to expect it’, or mah favourite…’ Don’t like it, leave it’, makes my middle finger so erect with rage.
I am all for leaving a dangerous situation, but I sure as shit won’t tolerate the danger being there in the first place. Not in my fucking playground, not in any of them.
Please take a moment to sign this petition.
If it is illegal in the local park, if it is damaging to someone, if it is against the law to say to someone’s face, them make it illegal here too.
Get loud about those who are unkind, but be louder about how it makes you feel. Especially to your kids. Give language to the emotions that as yet have no name. Someone out there is feeling the same way, they just don’t know what to name it either.
Support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or follow LifelineAust OntheLineAus kidshelp beyondblue headspace, aus ReachOut, AUS on Twitter.