Over the past few years, we have seen a huge increase in teen suicide.
Many of the teens have been subject to anti-gay bullying.
*James Smith (name changed) was only 17 years old when his mother found him hanging in the bathroom. He left a note saying;
“I don’t want to leave you mum but I can’t take it anymore, they are all bullying me… at school, online and it’s hell.”
Children as young as 12 years old are taking their own lives because of the harassment and bullying, both at school and on social media groups. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young teenagers, and gay teens are four times more likely than straight teens to attempt ending their lives.
During the teen years, children want to be “the same”, they feel a desperate need to “fit in” with their peers, so when they see other children being bullied, they fear they are going to be next – and quite often are!
Parents do find it difficult to talk about sexuality and adult themes with their youngsters, but communication is vital if we want our kids to develop a healthy confidence in who they are. It is good for them to learn how to accept their own differences, and, also to understand that we are all unique. Here are five important things for parents to think about:
Teens who are or appear “different” will be at higher risk of bullying.
As I said above, children (of all ages but especially teens) want to be “normal” and fit in with their friends and colleagues, therefore, differences in their sexual preferences can attract rejection and bullying (both verbal and physical abuse) We therefore need to be prepare our children for what they may come up against in the world. We need to teach them not to judge people as they wouldn’t want to be judged themselves. They need to be taught how to be resilient and confident in their own bodies.
A youngster who thinks that his or her sexual preferences are not acceptable to their peers could be at risk of suicide attempts.
Parents, family members, teachers and all adults involved with a teen need to be on red alert when they exhibit signs of depression, sadness, anxiety and anger. A lot of parents assume that if they are accepting of different sexual preferences, their children won’t be affected by any abuse coming from others, but gay teens are SO vulnerable. Parents of gay teens are sometimes the last to know that anything is wrong.
A friend of mine had no idea her 20 year- old son was struggling. He killed himself three weeks into his first term at uni. The first she knew was when the police turned up on her doorstep to say he was dead.
The majority of suicidal teenagers say they feel misunderstood.
It’s so important for us, as parents to commence a conversation with our teens BEFORE they go through puberty, to discuss all the different feelings about sexual preferences. If a child is feeling ashamed of the thoughts he or she is having, you need to be aware of this, so that you can reassure him or her that there is nothing wrong with different thoughts, or in fact, in sexuality in general. We need to be giving our children very positive messages of acceptance and love, and they need to know that we accept them unconditionally.
Monitoring teen’s lives on the internet
Obviously when a child reaches 16 or 17 years old it’s going to be nigh on impossible to monitor their every move on the internet but on- line bullies are the worst – why? Because they are behind a screen and they don’t give a damn what they say and to whom, nor who they hurt and can possibly lead to suicide! We need to talk to our teens about the consequences of on-line behaviour and teach them how to use it wisely, if not there will be serious consequences.
Communication is Crucial!
Believe it or not – most teenagers (from research) like spending quality time with their parents. When they do, they are less likely to be experimenting with drugs, joining gangs, and generally getting into trouble.
When they realise that their parents are not going to be judgemental and start having a go at them for their preferences – they will be more likely to open up and have those all – important conversations. We have the opportunity to build our children’s self-confidence and self-esteem, teach them about empathy, and model an acceptance and appreciation of others.
At my hypnotherapy clinics where I help children and teens overcome feelings of guilt, shame, anger, depression and anxiety – I see many youngsters who are struggling with their sexuality.
Some of them have come out – others haven’t as yet. Some are being bullied, some aren’t but I get the same question from all of them
“Why can’t people understand me?” or “Why am I different?”
This is why it’s so important for you as mums and dads to start getting to know your own child. You will only do this by being with them and communicating. Start well before the child reaches their teens!
If you feel your child needs help or to talk to someone outside of the family about their sexuality – do contact me.
One of the mums of a 15 year old girl who was being bullied at school for her sexuality said:
“My daughter got on really well with Elaine and really opened up to her – I had hoped she would open up to me but we didn’t have that kind of relationship, I don’t know why, maybe I just didn’t feel I could talk to her about such personal things” .
You MUST talk to your children. If not, the consequences could be fatal.
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