Tag Archives: Young and Wise

“I Promise This To You, Sophie Collombet.”

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BY ABBY MAC

It’s an odd and near inexpressible feeling to grieve for someone you didn’t know. A someone who you never met or touched, saw or even spoke to. Many might assume that you are being over-sensitive or just wanting to get in on the “action”; to be part of the community mourning if you grieve for this stranger. But, that’s not true for me.

Sophie Collombet was a young woman who travelled from her home country of France to Australia to study Business at Brisbane’s, Griffith University. On March 27, during the late hours of the night, Sophie Collombet was raped and bashed to death, eventually found by a jogger the next morning, at Kurilpa Park in South Brisbane.

Sophie Collombet

Sophie Collombet

I did not know Sophie or have any relation to Sophie, yet Sophie’s death has ripped my heart apart and an immense flood of grief has taken over my body. Pinpointing the exact reasons for my grief are hard but they vary from imagining the terror Sophie was experiencing in the last minutes to possible hours of her life. The fact that she died alone and near the bank of the ominous, Brisbane River. She died with the Brisbane City nightlife buzzing around her, yet no one could save her. Or mostly, that she died hurting all alone or, very potentially, with her evil offender near her.

Thursday night, along with over a thousand people, I walked in the candle-lit vigil from King George Square to Kurilpa Park to mourn, remember and show strength for Sophie and her family and friends. It was emotional. Tears from strangers was normal and once gathered at the park where Sophie was found, the crowd quietly sung “Amazing Grace” for the woman who was stripped of her life, due to senseless and disgusting violence.

Sophie Vigil

Rest in Peace Sophie – Candle-lit Vigil for Sophie on Thursday Night

Since Sophie’s death, community outrage has grown fierce that Brisbane is not really the safe city precinct which it claims to be on paper. Meena Narayanan, 27, was stabbed to death in Upper Mount Gravatt at the hands of her alleged boyfriend, late last month; Eunji Ban, 22, was a South Korean student studying in Brisbane bashed to death in a Central Brisbane park in November last year and Min Tae Kam, 28, was found in a shallow grave in Algester on December 19, last year.

The records of the above deaths as a result of unprovoked violence, are only some of the deaths which have occurred in Brisbane in the past six months. There are dozens more. What can be identified is that most of the victims are females under 30.

At the vigil for Sophie, I felt such shame as a citizen of Brisbane that just like Eunji Ban, Min Tae Kam and Meena Narayanan – who had all chosen Brisbane to study tertiary education, we had a responsibility to keep them safe. And then I realized, that our responsibility doesn’t just extend to those who come across the seas, but as a city and nation which have a duty to keep all our citizens – whether they be male, female, students, children, the elderly, whoever – safe and not be innocently stripped of their lives.

Many of the deaths have been cases of horrific violence against women committed by absolutely sickening men. The fact about Sophie’s death is that it is not the first of it’s kind, even for Brisbane. Her death was not the first time that a woman was a victim of horrendous violence and yet, our response as a community is similar to the ones before. We mourn, we grieve and we become outraged. We follow the pattern of calling on some sort of justice and methods to fix this violence against women. The same discourse occurred after the terrible tragedy involving Melbourne woman, Jill Meagher, who was raped and then murdered on the 22 September, 2012.

The conversations occurring to stop violence against, in particular, women, involve members of the public calling for more police precence or improved street lighting. Whilst I concede that this form of action is needed and would make some impact, these responses are not the only answers. The increasing cases of violence against women does not have one answer but many, which are hard and not easy. And, that’s very possibly why they aren’t being actioned.

Sophie Collombet’s murderer had an alleged history of mental illness and was homeless at the time, Jill Meagher’s murderer was countlessly released on parole or bail, or served minimum terms for the many incidents where he was convicted of violence against women, including rape. Eunji Ban’s killer, too, has recorded issues with mental health.

What we see is various issues which are already underlying problems in Australian society, yet are not being dealt with, and therefore are having serious and long-term affects in other areas of life. These underlying problems range from poor mechanisms to dealing with mental health, to homelessness, alcohol and drug misuse, unjust sentencing and notably,the perception that violence against women is a second-rate offence.

Again, we can improve lighting and police presence in these risky areas, but until we – as a society – start looking critically at the hard issues facing us, we will continue to see the dreadful ramifications in not only violence against women, but violence against the general community, self-violence, increased suicides and long-term economic effects.

So, I promise this to you, Sophie Collombet. I will never let you have died in vain. Your death and the tragic circumstances involving your death will not go unnoticed and I promise that I will do my very best to change the issues which contributed to your passing. You deserved a hell of a lot more from Brisbane and Australia than what you endured and I promise that I won’t sit in silence. I will yell and scream my loudest until someone else becomes loud with me, and what needs to be changed to prevent deaths like yours, will occur.

This, I promise to you.

Four international students have been killed in Brisbane since November, last year.

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What do you think of the circumstances respecting the death of Sophie Collombet? What about the other deaths in Brisbane? How can we – as a society – handle the problems leading to such violence?

Listen Up. I Deserve to Be Heard.

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BY ABBY MAC

To be honest, I am quite slack at this blogging business. I relish the stages where I want to publish an update everyday and my post-it note wall is spewing with ideas and then there are the miserable phases where I don’t post for months (note: this post is the first one in almost five months). Now, don’t get me wrong. My intermittent periods of posting and then not posting are not driven by my desire to post. Not. At. All.

I always want to post, though at times my want is stronger than at others. The level of my posting is mostly dictated by the time I have available.

Currently, it is holidays so my post rate will quadruple. During school times my posts tend to dwindle off because Growing Pains ever so slowly dwindles to the very bottom of my “To-Do” list and on very, very rare occasions do I reach anywhere close to the end of the list.

However, what always draws be back to this blog is not primarily an abundance of time that I am gifted with. It’s the fact that without this blog I don’t have a voice greater than my home, school or friends. My voice can’t be heard, or it is limited, without this platform which I can vent, rage, embrace, love or call for change. I am constantly brought back to this blog because with Growing Pains, I can be heard by anyone, anywhere and at anytime. And, this excites me and is empowering.

Today, I opened up my computer to write after reading stories such as the refugee who walked free from child kidnapping due to “cultural differences” and saw no time in prison after the molestation of a child. Or, when the hair-removal company, Veet, published ads claiming that an unshaven woman becomes a “man”.

So, whilst I sat and read articles like the above, I became outraged and felt so small. How could I – a young woman who lives in tiny Suburbia and hasn’t yet even had the chance to vote – change all these wrongs which infiltrate our world? Then I realized, not every change-maker has started with a voice which can be heard by the many people who populate our world.

Nelson Mandela did not begin with a voice, Gloria Steinem was not listened to and Martin Luther King Jr was oppressed due to the colour of his skin, but still, these people have all accomplished the greatest of greats and shaped history like few before us.

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem raised her voice for the women’s movement in the 1970s.

I am lucky for the fact that I have this platform – the Internet – to express my opinion and not fear extreme penalty for telling the world.

Now, I vow, that no matter how far down the “To-Do” list my blog sits, I will write. I will write not for fame or money or glory, but because I deserve to be heard and my blog, is where I can be.

How do you use your voice to speak up? Do you sometimes feel silenced?

Time Magazine’s 16 Most Influential Teenagers.

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BY ABBY MAC

Time Magazine has released their annual list of “16 Most Influential Teenagers of 2013”, which notably only includes 15 names. This list is not necessarily the most successful or most empowering teenagers, just incredibly influential. Take a look at the list and the biography of each teenager from Time Magazine, and tell us what you think.

1. Hailee Steinfield, 16
“Steinfeld had nearly no previous acting experience when she was nominated for an Academy Award at age 13 in 2010 for her role in True Grit. Now she’s playing a student at a military space academy in the sci-fi film Ender’s Game. “I still consider myself very much a beginner,” she told the Guardian.”

2. Chloe Grace Moretz, 16
“Chloe Grace Moretz is a leading lady for the first time in Carrie, but the blood-drenched horror film is hardly this 16-year old’s first rodeo. The Atlanta native has had supporting roles in (500) Days of Summer and Hugo, and she’s an up-and-comer in the fashion world, too. Next, she’s starring opposite Kiera Knightly in Laggie, out in 2014.”

3. Beth Reekles, 17
“The Welsh high school student was looking for something to read other than stories about vampires and werewolves when she decided to write her own teen fiction book. The then-15-year-old used story-sharing site Wattpad to release her novel, The Kissing Booth, which earned more than 19 million views and caught the attention of Random House Children’s Publishers U.K. The author, now 17, scored a three-book deal with the U.S. arm of Random House and has since appeared on the Today show. But writing remains a hobby for the teenaged literary sensation, who plans to major in physics in college.”

4. Justin Bieber, 19
“The Canadian-born pop star has become an industry to himself, valued by Forbes at $58 million. He released his first single at age 15, and in 2010, he became the youngest solo male artist to hit #1 on Billboards Hot 100, with My World 2.0, since Stevie Wonder. His high profile breakup earlier this year with fellow star and girlfriend of two years Selena Gomez landed him in gossip sections the world over, as did an altercation in March with a photographer.”

5. Maya Van Wagenen, 15
“The 15-year-old author rose to fame for keeping a diary in her quest to become popular, following antiquated tips from the 1950s self-help book, Betty Cornell’s Glamour Guide for Teens. Her musings about applying lessons such as always wearing white gloves and pearls as she navigated the social scene of a small Texas town landed her a six-figure Penguin book deal for, Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, last month DreamWorks optioned the rights for the novel, making the budding author the “youngest non-actor to ever make a deal” at the film studio.”

6. Malia Obama, 15
“At high-profile events, like her father’s second Inaugural Address, Malia and her sister, Sasha, act with the poise of adults. Thanks in part to Michelle Obama, they seem to lead as normal lives as they can while still meeting the demands of being in the limelight. (Such as 15-year-old Malia’s satirical send up in the Onion.) President Obama often mentions his daughters in speeches, and says that they influenced his stance on gay marriage.”

7. Ionut Budisteanu, 19
“The 19-year-old scientist’s design for a low cost, self-driving car won first place and $75,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for high school students in May. The prototype signals the potential of manufacturing autonomous driving vehicles to the masses, costing only $4,000 to build as opposed to Google’s $75,000 self-driving car. Budisteanu, a student in Romania, used artificial intelligence technology and a mounted camera on the car to identify traffic lanes, curbs, cars and even people.”

8. Kiernan Shipka, 14
“Mad Men’s Sally Draper is the sassiest character on TV, all thanks to Kiernan Shipka. The 14-year old actress has been playing Don Draper’s rebellious daughter since she was six and a half, but she’s still not allowed to watch the hit AMC show. Shipka also nails her red carpet appearances, with a quirky but age-appropriate style that gets her raves from the fashionable set. Watch out for her performance as incestuous Catherine in the Lifetime adaptation of V.C. Andrews’ Flowers In The Attic.”

9. Malala Yousafzai, 16
“In 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by the Taliban on the bus home from school in Pakistan. Malala was a target because of her vocal activism to better the education of girls under Taliban rule. After surviving the attack, the now-16-year-old didn’t hide in fear but strengthened her voice. “I speak for education of every child, in every corner of the world,” she said, and the world has been listening. This year she received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and a Clinton Global Citizen Award. She was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.”

10. Danta de Blasio, 16
“Bill de Blasio might be the Mayor-elect of New York, but his 16-year-old son Dante is the city’s latest fashion icon. Dante’s now-iconic afro has starred in a campaign ad, inspired a New York Times Style section piece, and even gained President Obama’s attention. “Dante has the same hairdo as I had in 1978,” he said. “Although I have to confess my Afro was never that good. It was a little imbalanced.” A junior at Brooklyn Tech, Dante and his sister Chiara (known for her floral headbands) were front and center in their father’s campaign.”

11. Kendall and Kylie Jenner, 18 & 16
“The younger sisters of the Kardashian clan are no strangers to the spotlight. They’re featured in Keeping Up With The Kardashians with their half-sisters Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, but they’re making their own waves as well. Kendall, a swimsuit model, and her 16-year-old sister Kylie have raised eyebrows for their precocious behavior. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve shown an early talent for deal-making: the pair launched a clothing line with PacSun this year.”

12. Missy Franklin, 18
“The 18-year-old won six gold medals at the 2012 Olympics and in doing so not only claimed the title of winningest female swimmer ever at a world meet, but also became the fifth swimmer to capture six or more golds at Worlds or the Olympics. She won the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year award this year. And, she joined the Cal swim team, turning down millions of dollars of endorsements to get a college degree.”

13. Nick D’Aloisio, 18
“When Marissa Mayer decides to buy your app for $30 million, you know you’re doing pretty well. When you’re only 17 at the time, “doing pretty well” is an understatement. Programming whiz kid Nick D’Aloisio sold Summly, a news-reading and summarizing app, to Yahoo in March. Other investors include Wendi Murdoch, Yoko Ono, and Ashton Kutcher.”

14. Lydia Ko, 16
“A New Zealand golfer born in South Korea, 16-year-old Lydia Ko has multiple LPGA wins. She turned pro this year—the LPGA waived the age requirement for her to join—and she’s already fifth in women’s world rankings after just 23 tournaments. She’s the youngest person ever to win a professional golf tour event and the youngest person ever to win an LPGA tour event (and the only amateur to ever win two LPGA Tour events).”

15. Lorde, 17
“The just-turned 17-year-old New Zealander rocketed to international fame this year with the release of her first album, Pure Heroine. Proof: New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who won the election on a message railing against economic inequality, walked onto stage to Lorde’s defiant “Royals.” The child prodigy—she signed with a label at 13—is already competing with pop’s biggest stars, surpassing Miley Cyrus in September for the top spot on iTunes with “Royals.” The singer-songwriter, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, is forging her own path, turning down an opportunity to join Katy Perry on tour because, as she said at the time, it ‘didn’t feel right.'”

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So, there’s a couple of huge names. Quite interesting to group significant figures such as Justin Bieber and Malala Youfaszai together, however, it is the most influential. I thought there were a couple of names missing from this remarkable list, so I have added my own incredible teenagers.

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Who do you think deserved or did not deserve to be on Time’s List? What teenagers are influential to you?

To read more of Time Magazine’s List, click here: http://time100.time.com/2013/11/12/the-16-most-influential-teens-of-2013/

To read more about the film, Girl Rising, click here: girlrising.com/

Urgh. Is This All Teenagers Are Interested By?

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BY ABBY MAC

When I started Growing Pains, it was intended for teenagers. I published this blog because I felt there was gap in the market for online sites providing real, educated and down-to-earth opinions on issues affecting teens and issues that teens are thinking about. It’s a blog written by young women who are actually experiencing being a teenager, not a professor with a bunch of letters next to their name who references studies when talking about what it is like to be a teen and pretends to have a clue. Growing Pains is real.

That’s why I talk about topics that seem broader than teenage issues, such as GoldieBlox toys, advocacy and domestic violence. There’s a misconception that teenagers only think about Instagram, themselves or the opposite sex and to be frank, that’s just rubbish. Sure, plenty of teens are addicted to themselves but there’s also a good lot of us that think deeply, critically and carefully. Often, these teens are lessened, ridiculed and silenced for wanting to learn and think, not just by teens but adults as well, such as the case of conservationist, Bindi Irwin who spoke out against over human population. At this age, teenagers are immediately associated with brains incapable of thinking and it is this thought that angers me and from there, Growing Pains is born.

growingpains

Apparently, this is all teenage girls do.


Once a week, I research ideas for posts and under the websites I investigate, there are many teenage-inspired ones. I am not typically blown away with content or ideas from these websites, in fact, I rarely get anything at all, but posts to be angry at, such as “The How-To Guide On Getting the Sexiest Boy at School”. You know, that sort of stuff. Most of the time, I sit in anger about these “How-To Guides” for 5 minutes, consider writing a post about it and then find a great, INTELLECTUAL idea on another website and write about that, instead. But today, I am not. Don’t worry, I have written all those intellectual ideas down, however, I finally need to let some steam off about these embarrassing, degrading, condescending, absurd and disgusting (EDCAD) posts that you find on those other teen websites.

To avoid legal matters, I won’t name these teenage sites but I have compiled a list of the Top 10 EDCAD posts from the most prominent teen websites (in no particular order).

1. 10 Sex and Hook-Up Tips From Our Fav Reindeer, Rudolph
2. Guess the Celebrity Legs
3. The 24 Most Important Selfies of 2013
4. If Male Celebs Wore Make-up
5. Meet Your Next Date At The Airport
6. Things to Never Tell A Directioner
7. 10 Secret Things You Do During Sex You Don’t Want to Admit
8. I Can’t [Get] This Guy Off My Mind, Will We Hook Back Up? (Ask a Dude)
9. 10 Ways To Tell That You’re A Bad Kisser
10. Jamie Dornan Will Go Full Frontal in 50 Shades of Grey

growingpains

This is all I ever dream about. Not.


Urgh. These are all teen websites which promote themselves as covering all the issues and problems relating to teenagers. Sure, occasionally tongue-in-cheek posts can be written, such as my one on Teenage Fashion Judgement, but do we really need thousands of websites telling young adults all the ways to be better kissers and score the person of their dreams? My answer to that is no.

It’s time to boycott these ridiculous sites which take advantage of this culture that teenagers are limited to only thinking about their hair. As adults, encourage teenagers to discuss and debate politics, human rights and society etc. and as teens, promote among your friends and family that you are more than the clothes on your body.

I’m sick of it. So, for heaven’s sake, I’m going to do my best at stopping it. Join me, whatever age you are and tell the world that teenagers are beyond reading “How to Find The One” even though we’re only 15.

What do you think? Are teenagers beyond those sorts of posts?

The Day I Listened to the Great Bindi Irwin.

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BY ABBY MAC

A week or so ago I went along to something called the National Young Leader’s Day.  I would like to tell you it was only a very select group of people who were invited to attend, however, there were around 1600 kids, just from one city, aging between 6 and 17.  So, it was basically a free for all. In essence, it was a day where around six speakers came and spoke to 1600 kids about the ways to be a good leader and what they can do in society to keep being a leader.  I met some really nice people and the speakers were pretty good, so all in all, it seemed as though it was a successful day.  Apart from one thing.  Apart from the treatment and reaction of Bindi Irwin, one of the six speakers.

For all of those who don’t know Bindi Irwin, she is a 15 girl, born into a family passionate about wildlife and conservation.  I don’t like to think of Bindi in just this way, but she is the daughter of the Late Steve Irwin, and he has definitely helped create and nurture her love of wildlife.  And endless list of awards are also included in her incredible achievements, however, I think what is more important, is Bindi’s ability and dedication to thinking about topics which people typically believe are beyond someone of this age.  In particular, Bindi is thinking and working through, over-human population.

Bindi

Miss Bindi Irwin.

I know.  I’d briefly thought of over-human population before, but, I’d never considered the causes, impacts or solutions to such a serious level and how vast and seemingly uncontrollable this issue is –  which is also seriously hurting our world.  When Bindi spoke at this conference, she was passionate and knew her facts.  Her knowledge was endless and unlike many people these days – particularly youths – she was dedicated to a cause greater than herself or something to help herself.

Bindi spoke of an essay that she was asked to write for Hillary Clinton’s e-journal about her views on conservation and she primarily linked conservation to over-human population.  An aspect which I remember is the analogy she made between over-human population and too many guests at a party.

She asked you to imagine if you had invited 15 friends to your house for a party and you had prepared 15 party bags, food and drink for 15 and only had enough space in your room for 15 people and then 70 people arrived.  How are you meant to cater for this extra 55 people when you don’t have the resources to support them?

A lady that Bindi knew lived for 104 years and during that time she had seem the world grow in population by 5.5 billion.  5.5 billion.  So, Bindi states that if the world only started or was intended to hold a certain amount of people, just like her hypothetical party, how is it still catering – equally – for these people today?  And, as Bindi puts it, this crisis is what Mother Earth is having to deal with, presently.

It’s a good question.  It’s a really good question.  I have thought about it and though it’s not my own greatest passion, I really believe that something must be done to conserve our planet and all its incredible attributes – flora, fauna, food, water and its people.  And, I am thankful that we have someone like Bindi Irwin, at only 15, who is caring about something as important and urgent as over-human population.

But, the leaders at the National Young Leader’s Day did not see this.  They saw a 15 year old girl trying, really trying, to talk about something delicate and crucial – and it just didn’t seem right to them.  I don’t know whether Bindi has been coached to speak publically or it was just her immense amount of passion, but she did seem over-enthusiastic.  To some, it seemed a little bit fake.  To me, it was passion.  When people asked her a question, she always answered “that’s a really good question.”  Some saw that as condescension.  I saw it as politeness.  She then made the fatal mistake of calling someone “love” to which this arena has erupted in disgusting sniggers.   Our future leaders.  Bindi handled it perfectly by commenting – “oh! Sorry!  I do sound like an 86 year-old woman, sometimes!”  And then that comment also received those little judgemental high school laughs and eye-balling.

I am Somebody

I am Somebody. The Banner for National Young Leader’s Day.

People walked out after her (amazing) speech, mimicking her, gossiping about her and didn’t even bring up the fact that she had STUMBLED UPON A REALLY IMPORTANT GLOBAL ISSUE THAT WOULD IMPACT THEM BUT SHE WAS TRYING TO FIX IT, FOR THEM. No.  They didn’t notice that, did they?  They didn’t thank her for taking the time out to talk to them, to try to inspire them. In fact, these leaders walked out as judgemental teenagers who claimed to dislike her because she was condescending but honestly, it was because someone possibly years younger than them was thinking about something more complex than the Snapchat which they didn’t get enough time to look at.  They were jealous because she was confident in herself and was making a difference in the world.

And, this annoyed me.  It annoyed me on the day, and if you can’t tell now, it’s still annoying me now.  Okay, so Bindi may have been over-excited but that is not something that she should change.  What needs to be changed is this culture that teens breed into themselves that for someone to be over-excited, passionate or thinking about something beyond mundane life, that it is laughable.  It’s not.  It’s great.  And, it’s time the whole world appreciated that.

Do you know someone or are you like Bindi?  How did you or others react?  What topics are you passionate about?

When Did “Rape” Become Fashionable?

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BY ABBY MAC

Every person has either said or heard a joke around a touchy subject.  A subject that most people wouldn’t dare venture into, let alone joke about.  For a very long time, I thought one of those subjects were rape.  Other people don’t seem to agree

I have noticed, been slammed in the face with an alarming trend joking about rape.  Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you.  Teenagers and young adults, and I stress that I have only found it in us youths, are joking about rape.  I am usually one to try and defend teens or help to understand us a tad easier, but here I am fleeing for the hills and leaving them all on their own.  Actually, I’m more the person when has started the fight against them and making others flock elsewhere.  The plain truth is, it’s not right and it needs to stop now.  Right now.

These are the sorts of statements I hear on a daily basis.

“If you don’t give me a …….., I’m gonna rape you.”

“Oi!  Come over here or I’ll rape you.”

“I love you so much I could rape you.”

“I would love to rape your mother.”

My google search

This is what my Google search came up with when I looked for rape. Initially, “rape statistics australia” was below “rape seed”.

Yes.  Re-read.  And re-read again. I hear this every day.  Girls say it to girls.  Boys to boys.  Boys to girls and vice versa.  Sometimes it is said with insignificant intimidation but most of the time as a joke.  In fact, just on the weekend I heard a girl mutter to another girl on the sideline of the hockey game, “If you don’t score a goal, I’m going to rape you.”  Unfortunately, the girls talking were actually nice girls and it’s sad to admit that those who toy with rape aren’t just the typical people who always go over the top, but it’s being said by, to and about almost everyone.

So when almost everyone is joking and accepting jokes about rape, we create a rape culture.  The most unfortunate part of it all is while we joke and see light in rape, a horrific and mortifying criminal offence, every 152 seconds in the U.S. someone is sexually assaulted, 1 in 6 American women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape. So, in context, there is a high chance and you will drop a joke about a person being raped and someone who has actually been raped or who has been affected by rape will be standing there.  Maybe they might blow up and let you know that what you had just joked about wasn’t so funny and then maybe they won’t say a thing.  And you will continue going on and making your unfunny rape jokes.

Only 20% of sexual assaults are reported to police when nearly 100% of motor vehicle thefts are reported to authorities, in Australia.  17,757 people were sexually assaulted in 2010, remembering only 20% are actually reported so really there are around 88,785 people who were sexually assaulted in 2010.

This is not a technological failure.

This is not a technological failure. I would prefer not to show the disgusting memes centered around rape, like “rape sloth”.

Now, this isn’t a story completely based on rape and hurling at you all the statistics but it is one to let you know and your friends that it isn’t okay.  I am closely connected to a person who has been raped and it is not okay to joke about what they went through.  And this goes for all the other words that you think are hilarious to use like;

“Come here whore!”

“You’re my bitch!”

“I just love you nigga.”

All of things insults demean, degrade, undermine and trivialise important events which have occurred in the world’s history like the fight for equal rights between black and white and then men and women.

 

Rape will never be and is not something to laugh at.  It hurts the victim and family and friends.  So stop think it’s funny and truly recognise what an idiot you are for thinking so.

 

Do you or have you heard someone joke about rape?  Do you really think it’s funny?  If you have been affected by sexual assault and someone does joke about it, how does it make you feel?

 

Definition:

 

Sexual assault and abuse: actual or threatened, including sexual assault and the sexual abuse of children, that can be a single incident or a series of incidents that are located on a continuum of behaviours from sexual harassment to life-threatening rape;

  • any form of pressured and unwanted sex or sexual degradation by an intimate partner or ex-partner, such as sexual activity without consent;
  • non-consensual sexual acts;
  • causing pain during sex;
  • assaulting genitals;
  • forcing or coercing a person to have sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease;
  • making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly (including taking explicit photos);
  • criticising, or using sexually degrading insults;
  • forcing a person/child to take their clothes off or remain naked against their will;
  • forcing a person to watch pornography or sexual activities;
  • lewdness or stalking;
  • indecent assault;
  • date rape;
  • drug-assisted sexual assault;
  • child sexual abuse or incest;
  • deliberate acts that groom children for sexual activity or exploitation ; and
  • exposure of a person/child to pornography, use of a person/child in the creation of pornography

The Way to Solve Bullying Is Not Through Awareness

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BY ABBY MAC

Through all the seminars, awareness programs and group chats at school that revolve about bullying and the urge to stop it, none have succeeded.  I am probably bursting dreams of many of the motivational speakers which have come to schools trying to convince various people not to bully and how to cope with bullying best, but the fact of the matter is; THEY’RE NOT WORKING.  I am sorry to break it to you but unfortunately, the hours spent promoting and having various “Say No to Bullying” days is not putting an end to bullying.

I have been severely bullied most of my schooling life (so far this year there has been none – let’s not jinx that) so I think it is fair that I have an opinion on this.  There are many different ways to attack the issue of bullying and each method will work better for a different victim and put a stop to the bullying faster.  There is no “one-size-fits-all” and sometimes that can be the largest problem with teachers, adults or anybody trying to solve bullying.  Approaches have to be different depending on the situation, type of bully and who the victim is.

Before writing this post, I questioned what I thought could end bullying and to be honest, I don’t know 100%.  I can provide advice and how I would have liked to seen the bullies be dealt with but they aren’t definite answers either.  Who knows what goes through the mind of someone that openly chooses to demean, degrade, criticise, inflict pain and damage another person?  Sometimes, nothing at all.  Below are a few things that I think need to be actioned more and unfortunately, more harshly.

1.       Accountability

Throughout the years that I have been bullied, not one person who has bullied me has ever had to apologise.  Not one.  Ever.  Quite frightening?  Not once have that had to admit to bullying me and apologise.  People not being made accountable for their actions means that haven’t had to see any fault in their behaviour.  It means that they aren’t being told that they’re behaviour they are showing is wrong.  Consequently, no effort has to be made by them to change.

Most time incidents of bullying has occurred, I have reported it to a teacher or if matters become worse, a year co-ordinator, deputy principal or headmaster.  Each time, they have either denied the bullying is occurring (Yes, because they would know sitting in their offices) or promised some sort of action which has never been followed through with.

Ensuring that bullies become accountable for their actions can firstly help to recognise their behaviour is wrong and in doing this, it tells them they have been caught and an excuse is not going to be provided for their behaviour.  Hopefully, this will lead to a cease in the bullying.

2.       Identifying all types of bullying

Bullying is not just punching someone.  It is not just calling them fat.  It is not just writing them a mean message.  Bullying can also be being a bitch.  At my last school, bitchiness, what the prime type of bullying I received, however, bitchiness is sometimes the hardest to identify and the easiest to cover.  Many people underestimate the power of people, particularly, girls being bitches to each other because bitchiness, is most of the time silent and adapted to directly hurt the individual intended.

Bullying is not okay

Bullying comes in all forms. And none of it is okay.

For instance, I was standing in line at school waiting for a class and a group of girls came up to our class and waved and said hello to everyone standing there.  Apart from me.  They did this every time we had that class for one and a half terms.  To an adult, it’s something you should just get over.  But when that happens every day, in front of everybody else, it hurts.  Or a group of girls playing “What Do I Hate” in class.  They were all sitting around me and it started with, girls with blonde hair, girls who wear their hair in plaits (I was wearing my hair in plaits), girls in White House (I was in White House), girls whose names begins with ‘A’.  It’s bitchy.  And it sucks.

Trying to tell an adult that them simply death staring you every time you go to your locker and following you to your next class but they aren’t in your next class, can just sound petty.  Most of the teachers I told said that I was just interpreting their behaviour wrong or for me to just grow up.  And that’s because they just don’t understand that bitchiness hurts and is hard to stop.  Identifying this and all types of bullying is key to stopping it.

3.       Why?

Most of the bullies that I have encountered they either suffer from issues at home or have reasons (not always directly linking to the victim) for why they bully.  Some have been bullied at home by parents or siblings, are acting by rumours they have heard or from friends and jealousy.  None are justifiable for the bullying but it helps to understand why.

Identifying and fixing the biggest question of all – why, is the greatest milestone of stopping individual cases of bullying.  Though it is the greatest achievement, it is often difficult to discover.  In some circumstances it is embarrassing, not yet understood or they are found out to be wrong.  As an example, in grade one I was bullied by another girl and it started because she was being bullied and abused by her mum.  Now, what she was doing to me wasn’t acceptable but it helped to explain why she was acting in the way that she was.  She clearly wasn’t cared for or had any control over her own life and so she needed to inflict the pain she was on me.

Questioning and attempting to understand the thought process of the bully can also be hard for them as speaking their reasons aloud can be embarrassing on their part.  Now, embarrassment isn’t always the solution but it aids in ceasing the bullying.

4.       Enforcing punishment and change

I don’t always source complete agreement on this point, however, I believe enforcing stronger punishment is crucial to stopping bullying.  Solving the root of bullying, which I addressed above, is the real solution to stopping bullying though this process is time consuming and in the meantime, we solve the more immediate issue with direct punishment – showing that for every action there is consequence.

As an example, I came out of the gym one day to the sports notice board.  For a couple of days, photos from our school touch football team were on the board and there happened to be one of me about to pass the ball.  As I walked out towards the board a group of girls from my team were standing around the photo of me.  When they saw me, they looked back, giggled and walked away.  The photo of me was now a photo of my body with my head ripped out and in the team photo, my face was scribbled out with pen.

Nothing happened to those girls.  The photo was simply taken down and replaced with a new one after I reported the incident.  These girls continued their parade with refusing to pass the ball to me on the field and different tactics to get me out of the team.  There was no punishment.  No consequences for their actions.  In this incidence, immediate punishment would have stopped their behaviour.  The school instigating that they will not play any games until their torments stopped.  I can almost guarantee I would have no longer been bullied if quick enforcement of the rules had occurred.

More action needs to be taken to bring an end to bullying instead of pitying the bully for the punishment that they might get or giving them one more chance when they have clearly abused the amount of rope you have already supplied them with. In cases like this, how much the victim suffers and will continue to suffer without punishment towards the bullying, is far worse than small punishment for poor behaviour.

5.       Becoming real.

Many teachers, parents and adults don’t like to believe that the perceived Good Girl is oh so bad.  As parents, I can imagine it would be hard to think that the son or daughter you brought up could not be the person that you thought they were.  Though, it is better to make small admissions and fix their behaviour than letting it continue and escalate.  At my last school, they refused to admit that girls were bullying each other and preferred to live in a perfect world of perfect people.  Such action caused the dux of their grade, most valuable hockey player, needed touch player for the undefeated team and competitor in swimming and athletics to switch to a different school.  Just because they didn’t become real.

Having pictures around the school with a big, red zero around it does not stop kids from bullying.

Bullying

These sorts of posters. They don’t help.

If schools think this is a good enough solution to bullying then they are very stupid and frankly, partly responsible for bullying.  I have witnessed first hand the commence of “Bullying Awareness Week” and having a discussion in class about actively trying to stop bullying, and kids walked out and impersonated and bullied a boy in our class.  Bullying awareness isn’t the answer.  It also isn’t completely invaluable.  It helps in some aspects of bullying, but it does not solve it.  When the world works this out, so will bullying.

Have you been bullied?  Was it fixed?  If so, how?  

Are There Heroes Out There?

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BY ABBY MAC

How do you define a hero? What is a hero? How can anyone pick and choose which people are heroes and which people are just very good?

Of course, I am not referring to heroes in a female or male sense, but instead someone who is defined as one with noble qualities, one who has courage and one who stands strong in the face of adversity. For every person, the word hero means something different to them. Different events and people shape the word hero for each individual person.

Currently, I am reading the book ‘Jasper Jones’ by Craig Silvey, where the main character Charlie and his friend Jeffrey have a heated discussion about who is the best superhero. Jeffrey argues that Super Man is the best hero because he is super human. He is the ultimate hero. He only has one true weakness considered to be Kryptonite, though Jeffrey also points out that his love for Lois Lane is another weakness. Thus, he is the best super hero.

Charlie argues that Batman is the best superhero because he has more to lose. He is not immortal and is threatened by many more things than Superman. Why should Superman worry about a bullet when only a green rock will affect him? Batman puts his own life at risk for society in the likely chance that he will lose it. To Charlie, and me, a hero is not someone who has no fear but someone who braves it.

The word hero is thrown around and placed on any person who does something good. But not every act is a heroic one. I don’t believe sport stars are heroes. I know I differ from a good part of society in that, but I don’t believe that people who play sport for a living are heroes. They are most certainly admirable people in their dedication to what they love and their ability; however they are not heroes for being sporting stars.

I believe there are only a select few who can be labelled heroes. I believe it is better to label heroic acts rather than heroes. Heroic acts happen every day by ordinary people whether that is due to their job or the time and place. One could say nurses, doctors, those in the army, navy and air force, police officers, paramedics and fire fighters are all heroes or act heroically. They commit to saving lives as their job, they commit to risking their lives. That is heroic. However, are they always heroes or is it their job that makes them one? Are they just as heroic as their job suggests?

I remember reading a story about a man who was presented with a bravery award for his heroic acts as a fire fighter. Yet, when he came home he beat his former partner until she almost died. He kicked her and she tried running from him but he ran after and kicked her down and kicked her pregnant stomach until she lost consciousness. He then took her ID, phone and money. His beatings meant she miscarried and was left blind in one eye. Apparently, he was a hero. Or had he just acted heroically, at some point in his life?

I don’t know if there are heroes in this world. I’d like to think there would be. I’d like to know that heroes come in all shapes and sizes and not just sports stars or super heroes. Or maybe you can just be your own hero.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
Pudd’nhead – Mark Twain

How would define a hero? Have you acted heroically or encountered someone you think is a hero? Is anyone a hero or did they just act heroically?

We have a different opinion. Can we still be friends?

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BY ABBY MAC

Is it possible, as teens or at any age, to be friends with someone and have differences of opinions? Not just a difference of opinion on a dress or a boy, but on a topic that you are passionate about or directly affects you. Many people often believe that you must be perfectly in sync with all your friends and all share the same opinions and same values. At some time, this delusion of perfect must be corrected. No two people share the exact opinions and values and so therefore no one can be your perfect match, in that aspect.

I watch friendships at school somersault into the depths of no goodbye just because they don’t agree on something or other. They attack each other, not their opinons or reasons. They say things that you can’t take back. Is that really necessary? I try to respect everyone’s opinions, but I often fall flat in respecting their arguments. Uneducated, ignorant arguments make me angry and it is these opinions that I can’t respect.

Difference in Opinon

Can we still be friends? Help.

I was sitting in class and a friend of mine whispered under her breath ‘ew’.
I looked around and said ‘what’?
‘Gays.’
‘What about them?’
‘They’re disgusting.’
‘Why?’
‘They just are.’

Uneducated. Ignorant. And I was angry. This is a fight I decided to pick. I often choose to leave an argument before it starts because it doesn’t affect me or it’s just not worth fighting about, but this one was worth it. I feel very passionately about equality worldwide, whether it is between men and women, adults and children, wealth to poor or homosexual to heterosexual. I believe that everyone is born with equal rights and they deserve to be treated with that respect.
So, as you can imagine, my friend unjustly commenting on homosexuality left me annoyed. Her opinion on homosexuality did not stem from her religion, culture, family up-bringing but her fear and ignorance to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender persons. She had no reason to hate them or be disgusted by them, but she did all the same. People’s opinions are formed by their religion, culture, family and friends, fear and ignorance. Especially when we are young, our opinions are similar to our parents because that’s all we know. At a young age, all we know is what we are brought up with but her opinion was only influenced with fear and ignorance. Not any other.

I was initially  angry about her opinion and at her. I needed to take a step back and leave it. I needed to sort through and find a position on the difference of opinion and whether it was worth our friendship, time or a fight. Of course, I considered all avenues and realised that it wasn’t worth a fight or our friendship. It was worth understanding, though. Both of ours.

I still don’t completely respect nor understand her opinion and her arguments. But that isn’t worth sacrificing our whole friendship. I try my best to educate her and possibly grant her an opinion that is educated and fair. Not necessarily my opinion or the ‘right’ one, but one that has reasoning behind it. I can’t stop being friends with someone because of their fear and ignorance but I can only hope one day to change it.

It’s difference of opinion which makes friendships diverse and not the same. I think friendship and life would be incredibly boring if everyone felt the same way.

Just as I did, I think one should pick their battles. Deciding to discuss a difference opinion of means you have to be respectful, just like they should for you.

Don’t you agree with me?

Can you still be friends with someone and have a difference of opinion? What do you disagree upon? How do you fix it? Why do you feel this way?

‘Not New Year’s Resolutions’

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BY ABBY MAC2013 has finally arrived and we can try to say goodbye to the old and start afresh. We can make 2013 the best we can; just like we promised 2012 was going to be! After a while, 2013 is no longer a novelty but just another year which means another school year, work year and of course, the dreadful feeling of not fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions.

Aren’t they a bit tired by now; New Year’s resolutions? Doesn’t everybody feel that no matter what your goal is, one usually gets caught up in something else and that resolution just gets put on the ‘next year’ list? For the first five days of 2013, I will sit outside and watch endless men and women try to conquer the hill we live on, and then for the rest of the 351 days of the year (Boxing Day – that’s another good day to sit outside) no one is running.

Happy New Year

Another chance to get it right? Bring. It. On!

I have never really thought of any New Year’s resolutions before, though, last year I did say I wouldn’t put as much tomato sauce on my meals. That didn’t work out. Seeing as though most people’s New Year’s resolutions aren’t fulfilled, I think we need to re-write the type of New Year’s resolutions. Instead of saying what we are going to do, how about we say what we aren’t going to do? For example, instead of writing – I am going to give people Christmas presents, one could write – I am not going to deprive my friends of Christmas presents. How does that sound? Here’s mine:

1. I am not going to procrastinate and encourage my dog to sit beside me when I write, meaning I have to pat him and therefore not write.
2. Since I can’t pat my dog anymore, I am not going to flip my phone up and down as procrastination.
3. I am not going to check the stats on the blog every 7 seconds.
4. I am not going to worry about other people and their thoughts on me.
5. I am not going to cater for everybody else. When somebody else in the assignment isn’t doing their work, I am not going to do it for them.
6. I am not going to give up on this.
7. I am not going to sit outside and watch the troopers battle our hill. I’ll cheer them on.

What’s your ‘Not New Year’s List’? How did you celebrate the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013?