It amazes me how prevalent bullying is today. When I was a kid, there might be one epic showdown between a couple of kids on the playground at the end of the school year or some hurtful exchanges between students but there was a limit to what could happen. This doesn’t lessen the pain those instances caused but it is a far cry from the potentially devastating effects a targeted attack can cause nowadays. What changed? Technology, for one.
It’s so much harder to say something awful to someone’s face so the anonymity of the internet makes it so much easier to be mean without having to face immediate consequences. Instead of spreading a rumor that could be more easily argued, bullies share private emails or intimate photos to shame and hurt their intended victims. Once those things begin circulating, it’s almost impossible to stop them and they can affect finding a job, being accepted to college, and forming friendships among other things.
One actor is taking a stand against bullying and his message is crucial. Quinton Aaron, best known for his portrayal of real-life football star, “Big Mike” Oher, in the Oscar-nominated film, The Blind Side, recently revealed: “I’ve been bullied before and I know how important it is to give hope to kids who are going through the same thing.”
These aren’t just passing comments, either. He’s shown that he is pretty committed to the cause. Back in 2012, he launched The Aaron Quinton Foundation. The organization’s entire mission is to put an end to bullying. It’s a big goal and he’s tackling it by holding rallies at school auditoriums and gymnasiums. The 31-year-old actor openly shares his own personal stories to encourage students to embrace tolerance and acceptance. It helps that he has fellow actor, Erik Martinez, by his side.
Together, they help educate the world about the fact that more than 160,000 children stay home from school every single day to try to avoid bullying. That’s an unacceptably high number! As Aaron says: “We have to listen to what they’re going through and provide resources for them… It’s something that will always be important to me. Every kid needs to know that they’re accepted and heard. That’s why I’ll keep doing this.”
Martinez, himself a bullying survivor, echoes the sentiment saying: “It happens daily in schools and workplaces all over the country. It shouldn’t be ignored. The rate of students committing suicide and reaching out for help is alarming. A lot of times, they just need someone who will listen.”
The pair, who are co-starring in the upcoming film, Justice, plan to continue visiting schools, churches and community centers throughout the year. So far, they’ve already reached over 300,000 kids. Who knows how many lives may have been saved through their efforts?
If you, or someone you know, are the victim of bullying, visit the “Get Help Now” section of the StopBullying.gov website or, for immediate assistance, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You do NOT have to suffer in silence!