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KAM In The News

In light of our recent loss and thanks to a few wonderful public figures, KAM has been in the news, Once again, Marlo Thomas is shedding light on the bullying epidemic:

Bullying Claims Another Victim…And Unexpected OneHuffington Post

Bruce Kluger of USA Today picked up on Marlo’s article and wrote this in response:

Bullying in USA: Are we defenseless?USA Today

January 30th, 2012 / no comments

KAM News

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share with you that Kevin Jr., Kiersten, and Kameron’s father…Wanda’s beloved husband Kevin, died suddenly on Saturday. Words cannot begin to express our sorrow, just as they cannot articulate the gratitude Kevin felt for every one of you: your support, from simply clicking “like” and sharing this page, to each donation, no matter how big or small, was a testament to how people truly cared about our cause. Your daily efforts to put kindness above malice will serve as a lasting tribute to Kevin and Kameron.

“Remember our children. Embrace our children. Let them serve as a constant reminder at this pivotal time, to accomplish this most important mission.” – Kevin Jacobsen [9/21/11 Federal Partners Bullying Prevention Summit, Washington, D.C]

 

January 10th, 2012 / 6 comments

Stand Together

In 2009, Sirdeaner Walker lost her 11 year old son, Carl Joseph Walker Hoover, to bullycide. Today she is taking a stand and has created a community of people who pledge to “Stand Together” against bullying.

The Stand Together movement aims to raise awareness to bullying and educate teachers and parents on the effects of bullying. Carl’s mother wishes communities and schools will institute anti-bullying policies, so our children are happy and safe.

Part of the Stand Together site asks people to register to show their commitment. Once you register, you pledge to:

  1. Refrain from bullying of any kind, for any reason.
  2. Treat others with respect.
  3. Intervene, if I safely can. Or tell someone who can.
  4. Encourage others to Stand Together against bullying.

Afterwards you will receive a number and many take a picture of themselves holding the number and submit it to the website

January 6th, 2012 / 1 comment

Pay It Forward Ideas

We hope you’ve checked out what we are doing with those ‘pay it forward’ cards…maybe you’ve even used one already. This post featured on Brunch At Saks offers some great ideas for putting them to use. Even if you don’t have our cards, a random act of kindness is always possible. It’s a surefire way to brighten up someone’s day, as well as yours.

  • Hand write and mail a note ‘just because’ to a friend or relative.
  • Bring a meal to a neighbor or friend when they are sick.
  • Spend an hour playing games with the residents at our local convalescent hospital.
  • Pay for the person behind me in a fast food line.
  • Mow my neighbor’s lawn or pull weeds out of their planters.
  • Bring a pile of old magazines to my doctor’s office for her waiting room.

read the rest here

January 4th, 2012 / no comments

Don’t Just Say It, Live It

One of Kameron’s favorite artists tweeted about the foundation, writing, “Kindness above malice, don’t just say it, live it.” We’ll be forever thankful that Kid Cudi took the time to spread the word.

To continue the idea of practicing what we preach, we would like to share uplifting messages here on the blog. Words to live by…

image credit

January 2nd, 2012 / no comments

The Bullycide Project

Based on the book Bullycide in America by Brenda High, The Bullycide Project is a performance that aims to educate people about suicide caused by bullying. It features real stories and urges bystanders to do something and speak up. The book is a compilation of stories by parents who have lost their children to bullycide and the show showcases the stories of these students. It is performed by the Trust Theater Ensemble, which is made up mostly of High School and college students and was created by a theater teacher at a Michigan High School.

Currently the show can only been seen at local Michigan schools, but they did perform at the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington D.C. and it is gaining in popularity. Check out their website for booking information and a video.

December 21st, 2011 / no comments

Don’t Just Say It, Live It

One of Kameron’s favorite artists tweeted about the foundation, writing, “Kindness above malice, don’t just say it, live it.” We’ll be forever thankful that Kid Cudi took the time to spread the word.

To continue the idea of practicing what we preach, we would like to share uplifting messages here on the blog. Words to live by…

December 16th, 2011 / no comments

KAM At The Bullying Prevention Summit

This past September Kameron’s parents, Kevin and Wanda Jacobsen, traveled to Washington D.C. to speak at the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit.  Kevin is now sharing his speech because “In honor of Kameron, I choose to fight for those who suffer in silence.”

9/21/11
Presentation to –  Federal Partners Bullying Prevention Summit
Washington, D.C.
By Kevin Jacobsen

May I begin by expressing our gratitude to the Ad Council for inviting us to share our family’s life altering path as a result of bullying and peer abuse. In particular Wanda and I extend our deep love and admiration to Marlo Thomas.

Marlo’s life long dedication to our nation’s children is a testament to the vision and to the love that her father shared with her and with this nation.

Marlo Thomas serves as a reminder of our own responsibility, to one day step into a mission at a pivotal moment in time, and help save lives.

Our son Kameron experienced Peer Abuse and Bullying in its 3 most recognizable forms. Physical, verbal and emotional.

In the spring of 2009 Kameron was a 7th grader. He weighed 72 pounds. While at a baseball practice, one of his teammates sucker punched him. A bully 60 pounds heavier and 6 inches taller.

The bully was a young man with a socially aggressive and abusive personality. He had been disciplined under the rules of the league and by the umpire’s rulings multiple times. Yet with disenfranchised parents, and the coaches’ failure to identify the characteristics of a bully, this boy remained on the team.

Kameron crumbled unconscious to the grass. His jaw was broken in multiple places and he was covered in blood. Taken by ambulance to the ER then transferred to a larger hospital specializing in critical pediatric medicine, Kameron was admitted and then underwent a painful surgery. With his jaw wired tightly shut, he began a long and difficult summer isolated by reasons of physical and emotional safety, all the while broken in spirit.

With love from friends and each other, we began to nurse our son back to the funny, goofy and loving young man we will never forget – and after a summer disrupted, he looked forward to entering the eighth grade. As an upperclassman, Kam was popular as a leader and friend to all. He intervened when he saw bullying and mediated solutions. This we learned after his death.

Socially and academically Kam was at the top of his game again. As the 8th grade spring brought opportunities of dances and tree house sleepovers, Kameron courageously decided he was ready to go back to the game he loved. He decided to try out for his middle school baseball team.

As fear was replaced by admiration for our son’s tenacity we encouraged him to pursue his goal and to tryout. With only 25 available slots and over 100 boys trying out, cuts to the roster were made every day for the next two weeks.

Kameron loved to learn about and explore the world around us. His love of music included the rapper Kid Cudi, the artistic insight of Miles Davis and the southern rock of the Zac Brown Band. A Sunday tradition included my best attempts at persuading him to sit with me during just one segment of 60 Minutes. Before long I didn’t have to convince him anymore. He took from those stories a new found knowledge and appreciation for the diversity and challenges that make up our planet.

He enjoyed great food and usually ordered something exotic from the menu. If there was nothing there to peak his curiosity, he would simply choose the most expensive dishes, then give us that loving look to melt any parental resistance. He played video games enthusiastically.

He was a student of American history. If he could have lived during any decade he would have chosen to live during Lincoln or the “roaring 20’s.”

I once shared a story about the NASA Space missions and the Apollo project from my youth.

It was the tale of the space pen. As the story goes – during the space race with the Soviets, both countries needed to develop a pen that could write in space, in zero gravity. So after a couple of years of research and a few million tax dollars, NASA won that race and they were the first to develop the space pen. All the while the Cosmonauts simply used a pencil.

Kameron loved that story and its illustration of the differences between our two philosophies.

He thought it a waste that we couldn’t join two great powers and explore the promises of space together for the benefit of all mankind.

One night after attending a dinner where an astronaut was present, I brought home a gift bag and in its bundle of goodies, there included a space pen.

Kameron was excited with surprise. He loved that pen. He thought it awesome.

One day while daydreaming as 8th graders often will, Kameron began to unconsciously tap the pen on his desk during a teacher’s lesson. The teacher walked over to his desk, snatched the pen from his hand and tossed it into a metal trash can.

Kameron exercised his constitutional right and objected to that unjust imbalance of power and protested his teacher’s action on a number of levels. In that environment his right to be protected from emotional harm in a school was violated repeatedly by the imbalance of power that we now recognize as the trademark of the bully. In this case it came from a teacher.

Kameron came home telling us about the incident and his punishment of after school detention. He knew he was wronged and only wanted fairness. In our home we teach that the authority figure was always right. The bus driver is the authority on the bus. The lunch lady in the cafeteria. The teacher has charge over the classroom and our children have respected those ground rules all of their lives. In this case we felt that the detention penalty during that particular week would also result in that of a second unjust penalty. He would be automatically cut from the team for missing a tryout.

I called his teacher and politely explained Kameron’s perseverance and determination to make the team after recovering from such an emotional and brutal assault the spring before. After requesting that Kameron serve his sentence when the tryouts were completed as not to penalize him twice, I was told, quote –

“Mr. Jacobsen, I don’t really care if Kameron makes the team or not.”

Before I ended the conversation I communicated to her that I was under the impression we were all part of the same village trying to nurture our children for the good of the whole society.

We called the principal the following day and she immediately mediated a fair resolution. Kameron would serve his detention after the tryouts.

The very next day his teacher told him in front of his classmates that his parents couldn’t protect him forever. Her assertion was accurate.

She warned Kameron that she would call his coach and tell him “what he did and how his parents had to come to your rescue.” She followed through on her promise.

His coach told him he should have taken his punishment “like a man.’

Kameron was confused and confounded, he asked us not to call the coach and make things worse. What else should we have done? Where else could we have turned for support? We left it alone as he wished. This disheartened but courageous young man told us jokingly on the last day of tryouts that he was cut. Our hearts sank and then he allowed himself to break out in a soft smile, in a safe moment of pride with a lesson in determination by a young life lived in humility and quiet perseverance. He made the team.

The summer of 2010 was joyful and spontaneous. The friends he left behind will treasure those days and nights forever. Wanda and I will treasure them for a time and one day, be with him again.

September 2010, last year, began high school and now this new 14-year-old freshman all of 90 pounds faced what freshmen face all across this country.

In November Kameron came to us and broke down telling us he didn’t think he could live like this.

Having no cohesive plan or framework in place to handle the complexity of repeated bullying, either we could leave this in the hands of a system not able to respond adequately, or now come up with an effective and tailored plan of action to correct this situation without adding to the ostracizing and making things more difficult for him.

Our school failed to address this bullying phenomenon, this new environment connected by 24/7 electronic communication. Unequipped and without a workable philosophy for today’s brave new world the traditional response failed to address an unconventional problem. One size does not fit all.

Our plan was disregarded in favor on an antiquated policy that cannot be successful in a social and virtual 24/7 reality.

One out of four will suffer long term as a result of bullying. Some agree it’s more like 3 out of 4.

We need fundamental change in the landscape of America when it comes to bullying and peer abuse. We don’t need policies, we need a philosophy. Perhaps creating a district wide Bullying Liaison dedicated to the ongoing training and education of faculty and students. Encouraging parental and community involvement as the cornerstone of success.

We cannot continue to rely on outdated methods and add to the already overworked guidance departments who are clearly focused on the educational objectives of academic and career planning.

My children don’t think twice when they get into a car before buckling a seatbelt. I still need the reminder of the beep in the dashboard. Bullying needs a long term philosophy, a change that enables every person to recognize bullying immediately in all of its forms and from all of its sources. A cohesive and comprehensive change in our individual and collective thinking. Sow seeds that will take root and begin a season of harvest that will reflect the compassion and humanity of who we are as Americans.

As President Kennedy dedicated this country in the 1960’s to landing a man on the moon within that decade, we too need to rededicate this time and our resources to accomplish this lofty goal of the 21st century. Let’s make anti-bullying the seat belt philosophy of the next generation.

We can correct the imbalance of power every time we identify it. We can make it second nature if we train everybody from Superintendent to teacher from lunch lady to principal every custodian and member of staff. Parents and students. Coaches and clergy. Community leaders and ultimately every member of society. Week after week, month after month, year upon year. If we adopt real change that can save just one life then our son and these many other beautiful children that have lost their lives to this scourge will not have died in vain. The enemy is the action or inaction of every bully, every bystander and every victim. Everybody.

We need to resolve this issue within the added complexity of the 24/7 phenomenon of electronic and social communication that has become such an integral part of our individual and collective lifestyles. We must continue to challenge the social media innovators to teach and encourage the electronic bystander how to be empowered and provide opportunity for the victim to seek proper remedy.

Leading the charge of the great feminist movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, Gloria Steinem courageously fought and passionately crusaded to correct the imbalance of power in America and to level the social, economic and educational playing fields of opportunity and civil rights.

“We don’t want reform,” she so powerfully declared, “We want revolution.”

It is once again a time for revolution. I beseech you and provoke you to action. Although Kameron Jacobsen lived a short life, it does not mean his life was not complete. It is our mission to carry on his legacy.

May I share with you, in closing,  the words of the late Danny Thomas from St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital – Marlo’s dad.

“All of us are born for a reason, but all of us don’t discover why. Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”

Remember our children. Embrace our children. Let them serve as a constant reminder at this pivotal time, to accomplish this most important mission.

Thank you all very much.

 

December 12th, 2011 / 2 comments
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