Bullied Teen’s Father Walking through Idaho to make a Change

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When Joe Bell’s son passed away last February, he decided that no child should ever have to endure the bullying that drove his  15-year-old son to take his own life. Rather than let Jadin Bell be remembered as simply yet another victim of teen bullying, Bell decided to share his son’s story with the rest of the country, one mile at a time. On April 22nd, he begin his 5000 mile cross-country trek to do just that, on foot.

The Le Grand father will be making his way through Idaho for the next week or so, speaking wherever and whenever he can about the issue. His  goal is to not only draw attention to the problem of bullying itself, but also to spark real conversations that will, hopefully, lead to real change.

Jadin, a High School sophomore, hung himself at a Le Grande school earlier this year, after enduring months of bullying because of his sexuality. The teen was taken to a Portland hospital, where he passed away on February 3rd. Bell tells the Le Grand Observer that those who knew about the bullying, yet didn’t speak up, are part of a national problem, “When a child is bullied there are usually a lot witnesses. Not doing anything is not acceptable,” Bell said. “(Those who watch and do nothing) are just as guilty. They are saying that it is acceptable.”

Beyond putting up anti-bullying posters and giving lip service to the issue, getting Idaho to  really talk about the problem is going to be difficult. Idaho lawmakers have refused to strengthen anti-bullying measures in recent years. In 2011,  The Center for Preventing Hate released a disturbing report regarding bullying and harassment among Pocatello’s high school students. The report found, among other things, common slurs like “whore” and “fag” along with more extreme ones like “ni–er” and “c-nt” are reportedly used daily. (Read more on that HERE.) Anecdotal evidence suggests despite an increased awareness regarding the problem, the issue still isn’t being adequately addressed, especially in Idaho’s more rural areas where sexuality and gender identity are often still seen as “taboo” subjects.

A U.S. government study, titled Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Youth Suicide, published in 1989, found that LGBTQIA youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people. Currently, Idaho has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation. Studies have shown that those who have been bullied and or harassed at school can be affected by the actions well into their adult years.

Bell, who quit his job at Boise Cascade in order to make his two-year journey, is planning on speaking at schools, community events and impromptu gatherings wherever he is welcomed. He will also be telling folks about Faces for Change, a foundation which was, the Observer notes, “established in Jadin’s memory to promote anti-bullying programs.”

Bell is currently walking in the Treasure Valley area.  Anyone in Idaho who would like to walk with him, set up a back yard meet-and-greet or just encourage him is welcomed to do so. You can find out his location and more on the Faces for Change Facebook page or you can also call his cell phone at 541-786-8299. You can learn more about Faces for Change at the Foundation’s website by clicking HERE.

Watch Bell’s interview with KATU-TV below:

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Father of Jadin Bell: “Look at people for who they are…”

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The father of 15-year-old Jadin Bell is speaking out about his son’s death.

Joe Bell told a group of about 300 people at La Grande High School Tuesday night that he doesn’t want his son to have died in vain. The Oregonian reports,”His comments broke the family’s silence in the aftermath of the La Grande High School cheerleader’s death. He spoke at an evening assembly at Eastern Oregon University to launch a nonprofit foundation against bullying called Faces for Change.”

“I want it, (his son’s death), to stand for something. I think we need to look at people for who they are and not who we think they should be.”

The tearful father told the crowd that he loved his son and accepted him for who he was.

According to the paper, family friend Bud Hill, who is helping to create the foundation, says Bell and Jadin went to a school councilor to report the bullying a week before the teen hung himself on a elementary school playground.

According to KOMO-TV, Bell “came to the playground of Central Elementary School in La Grande. He climbed on a play structure and hanged himself. Someone passing by tried to rescue him. He was brought to Portland and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital where he was put on life support.”

“Hill says Jadin asked his parents to home school him. He feared turning in the bullies would make things worse. The school district says it was in the process of investigating when Jadin tried to end his life,” the station reported.

Bell died on February 3rd at a Le Grande children’s hospital.  He had been taken off life support a week earlier.

Click HERE to email the foundation.

Click HERE to learn more about how you can help be part of the solution to ending bullying in our schools.

(If you or someone you know needs help, or is considering suicide, you owe it to yourself to visit The Trevor Project’s website or call them at 1-866-488-7386. In the U.S. you can also call 1-800-273-8255 and talk to the folks at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Visit stopbullying.gov for more resources and help put an end to this national nightmare. )

Update: Le Grande Teen dies Sunday Afternoon

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Tragic news this afternoon from Oregon, 15-year-old Jadin Bell has passed away. Oregonlive.com is reporting that Bell passed early Sunday afternoon at an Oregon children’s hospital.

Bell was admitted to Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital last month following a suicide attempt on a elementary School playground.

According to KOMO-TV, Bell “came to the playground of Central Elementary School in La Grande. He climbed on a play structure and hanged himself. Someone passing by tried to rescue him. He was brought to Portland and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital where he was put on life support.”

He was taken off life support a little over a week ago.

Family friend Bud Hill tells reporters,”Jadin was pushed to suicide after being bullied in person and on the Internet for being gay.”

PQ Monthly says, “A passerby tried to rescue the boy, who was then flown to Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital where he was on life support until last weekend.”

Bell’s mother, Lola Lathrop, tells KATU-TV she hopes there’s a lesson to be learned from the tragedy, “The next time you are thinking of being unkind to someone, think to yourself, if that person was a member of your family, would you want them treated like that?” Don’t treat them like that,” Lathrop said.

According to KOMO-TV,”Hill says Jadin asked his parents to home school him. He feared turning in the bullies would make things worse. The school district says it was in the process of investigating when Jadin tried to end his life.”

A facebook page set up to offer love and support to Bell and his family became a rallying point for both friends and strangers from around the country waiting for news of his health.   As news of the boy’s death  made its was around the internet, Sunday evening, messages of sorrow and sadness were beginning to trickle in.

Oregonlive.com reports that his family has made arrangements with Loveland Funeral Chapel in La Grande.

Family friend Bud Hill tells the newspaper he “plans to hold a public meeting this coming week at Eastern Oregon University, where he works as an electrician, to discuss plans to create an anti-bullying foundation. He said there’s been an outpouring of support for the idea.”

“The meeting will be held Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Hubert Auditorium in Badgley Hall on the EOU campus at 1 University Blvd. in La Grande.”

UPDATE: Bullied Teen in Critical Condition at Oregon Hospital

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(Editor’s Note: Conflicting information led to an inaccurate headline in an earlier report. I  sincerely regret the error. My thoughts and prayers are with Jadin and his family. If there ever was time for a miracle, this would be it.-JT)

15-year-old Jadin Bell has been taken off of life support following a suicide attempt on a elementary School playground. As of Tuesday evening, he remained in critical condition at an Oregon hospital.

According to KOMO-TV, Bell “came to the playground of Central Elementary School in La Grande. He climbed on a play structure and hanged himself. Someone passing by tried to rescue him. He was brought to Portland and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital where he was put on life support.”

Dozens of Le Grande residents turned out for a vigil in Bell’s honor last week.

Family friend Bud Hill tells reporters,”Jadin was pushed to suicide after being bullied in person and on the Internet for being gay.”

PQ Monthly says, “A passerby tried to rescue the boy, who was then flown to Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital where he was on life support until last weekend.”

Bell’s mother, Lola Lathrop, tells KATU-TV she hopes there’s a lesson to be learned from the tragidy, “The next time you are thinking of being unkind to someone, think to yourself, if that person was a member of your family, would you want them treated like that?” Don’t treat them like that,” Lathrop said.

According to KOMO-TV,”Hill says Jadin asked his parents to home school him. He feared turning in the bullies would make things worse. The school district says it was in the process of investigating when Jadin tried to end his life.”

PQ reports,”Friends of Bell have set up a Facebook page — “Stay Strong, Jadin Bell” — to offer love and support during this difficult time.”

(If you or someone you know needs help, or is considering suicide, you owe it to yourself to visit The Trevor Project’s website or call them at 1-866-488-7386. In the U.S. you can also call 1-800-273-8255 and talk to the folks at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Visit stopbullying.gov for more resources and help put an end to this national nightmare. )

Free Streaming of Chasnoff’s “Lets Get Real” part of “No-Name Calling Week”

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In an effort to help curb school bullying thousands of students, parents and educators across the country are participating GLSEN’s No Name Calling Week this week.

Filmmaker Debra Chasnoff, whose It’s Elementary—Talking About Gay Issues in School documentary set off a firestorm in Idaho close fourteen years ago, is offering free streaming of her company’s award winning film Lets Get Real as part of the week’s activities.

According to a press release,”No Name-Calling Week was founded in 2004 by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing with more than 50 participating organizations supporting the week-long event.”

“The project seeks to focus national attention on the problem of name-calling in schools, and to provide students and educators with the tools and inspiration to launch an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate name-calling in their communities,” says a website devoted to the week.

“In honor of No Name-Calling Week, House Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) will introduce a congressional resolution during the week to commemorate the wide range of educational activities taking place in schools across the country aimed at ending name-calling, bullying and harassment of all kinds. Ros-Lehtinen is also a co-sponsor of the Safe Schools Improvement Act.”

As for the film, according GroundSpark’s website,”Let’s Get Real gives young people the chance to tell their stories in their own words–and the results are heartbreaking, shocking, inspiring and poignant. Unlike the vast majority of films made for schools about the issue, Let’s Get Real doesn’t sugarcoat the truth or feature adults lecturing kids about what to do when “bad” kids pick on them.”

Currently, Idaho has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation. Studies have shown that those who have been bullied and or harassed at school can be affected by the actions well into their adult years.

According to 2012’s Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, out of 1,702  students in 48 public high schools in Idaho, 22.8 percent report being bullied or harassed on school property within the last year.

The Center for Preventing Hate released a disturbing report in 2011 regarding bullying and harassment among Pocatello’s high school students. The report found, among other things, common slurs like “whore” and “fag” along with more extreme ones like “ni–er” and “c-nt” are reportedly used daily. (Read more on that HERE.)

Click HERE to WATCH the film for Free!

Watch the Film’s trailer below:

Learn more about No-Name Calling Week HERE.

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