'Ellen' Show Reveals Tragic Truth About Dead Bullied Teen (VIDEO)

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Ellen Degeneres BullyWhen your child comes home upset about some jerk on the schoolbus, it's a parent's job to tell our kids we love them and try to convince them the big mean bullies just don't appreciate their special brand of awesome. But after watching the grieving parents of bullied to death teen Tyler Long -- whose high school struggles are among those told in the already controversial documentary Bully -- on Ellen DeGeneres' show this week, I'm starting to feel like we've been doing it wrong all along.

The Longs did that, and more, for their son, whose Asperger's made it hard to understand why the cruel kids who told him he should die wouldn't simply stop the unending torture. He committed suicide despite having loving, supportive parents at home who did everything they could to fight for their boy. And Tina Long told Ellen a shocking truth more parents need to hear.

We aren't enough. As Tina Long said:

What peers think of our kids, I think we downplay that ... A parent can only do so much ... we can love them tremendously, but when they walk into that building, something else happens.

Something in Tina's words hit me in a way that nothing has in all the talk of bullying in the past few years. We all yearn for acceptance. And yet, we parents don't like to admit that ours is not enough.

Instead, we talk about raising our kids to think for themselves and to stand up for what they believe in. We talk a lot about self-confidence, and self-love, and self-preservation. And these are all important, don't get me wrong. I want my daughter to know that she really is all that and a bag of chips. She's smart, she's funny, she's quirky ... but really, I don't need to be a braggy mom. Point being: she rocks.

She doesn't need someone else's approval in order to be incredible. But it's nice, isn't it? It's life-affirming to hear that someone else thinks we're pretty cool. It's why we live in a society where people have friends, and why people couple up. It's human nature to crave affection and positive attention. And as much as we, the parents, want to think our love is enough, face it ... we went off from our own nests, made new friends, coupled up, became parents. Because our own parents weren't enough.

We aren't enough for our kids. They need what we need too. But if you were to stand up in a room full of parents and admit you wouldn't mind having a kid who was popular, the clucking tongues will start going a mile a minute. Didn't you know your kids are supposed to ignore what other people think of them and just be their own awesome selves?

Well, yes. And no. Bullies should not have the power to tell our kids who they can and cannot be. Whether your kid has autism or your kid is gay or your kid is a geek or whatever has suddenly made them a target, it's not "their fault" that someone else is acting like a complete jerk. But "it gets better" does not solve the problems of "right now." It does not suddenly make being picked on FEEL good. There is no magic switch that can be flicked to suddenly lower the volume of everyone telling you that you suck to the quiet tittering of a mouse.

Yes, our kids are incredible. But Tina Long is right. We can't just sit here telling them that out of one side of our mouths and, out of the other, tell them that their basic human need for love and acceptance is a weakness that they need to rise above.

Check out Tina and David Long's chat with Ellen (please, get the tissues out first):

How have you talked to your kids about the bullies? Do you find yourself falling into the "well, they just don't know how cool you are" trap?


Image via The Ellen Show/YouTube



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Things like this just breaks my heart. I wish I had the answer. 

SwePea SwePea

I was bullied throughout my childhood for being overweight. I believe bullying is a natural part of life ingrained in us. The stronger will prey on the perceived weaker. When I was 12, the same girl everyday would call me fat ass and tell me she was going to beat my ass. My friends just stood by and became submissive as well. I was to humiliated and ashamed to speak up. At the time, I wasn't strong enough to overpower her so I went to my mom about what was upsetting me so much. My mom marched to the school the next morning and got in her face. Although I felt embarrassed that my mom was fighting my battle, the girl was absolutely terrified that this adult was telling her to "back off or else". And I would do the same thing for my kids. I wouldn't just send them back to school telling them I think they're cool. The idea that my kids aren't good enough for their peers is so painful. They don't have to be but if anyone makes them feel bad, I see red.

femal... femaleMIKE

I was bullied for my whole school career. I think because I took a lot of "shit" and that's why they kept on doing it. I was a goofy kid so that's what made me uncool. I don't know why kids today commit suicide. In my situation I would have gained confidence through taking a self defense class. Thay would have helped me. Maybe that could help kids today.

Brooke Williams

I remember bullying in middle school and high school. It was so sad. I was not a bully nor was I bullied myself. I have stood up for people to bullies before. Someone has to!

My brother was bullied. He was short, skinny and geeky. We rode the bus together. I remember one boy told my brother he hoped "he got AIDS and died." I lost it. I told that boy that this is my brother and you don't talk to him or anyone else that way. To this day it makes me so mad. Not that it happens to all bullies but that boy has been in jail since he was 19.

I wish everyone had someone to stand up for them. I wish there was no bullying. I wish parents taught their children better. I wish people had respect for others.

It does get better but 4 years (or more) seems like forever to a kid.

KenneMaw KenneMaw

I think girl bullies are some of the worst.  The little digs and comments started in 2nd grade with my daughter.   The bullying in elementary school is 90% words and they hurt and sting and worse, they are remembered.    Teachers, counselors all give the same line - say no, try to ignore the bully, walk away, etc...    We have told our daughter that if she feels the need to punch one of the bullies, we support her 100%  Talking to the parents of the bullies don't help - heck, on of the worst bullies was the daughter of a family therapist!!!!!  The mother would not believe what her precious daughter was doing.   As much as we all need acceptance and as important as it is to be loved, we do have to teach our kids that not everyone will like them and they will not like everyone.   They need to know that they do not have to put up with the behavior.   It is important to focus on finding one really good friend and to keep talking to their parents.  I think it is when kids are internalizing the hurtful feelings and actions that the problems start (cutting, planning revenge, etc...).

onefo... onefootcutiepie

I think parents feel helpless when dealing with the school. Relying on teachers to help goes NOWHERE.

lcald... lcaldwell79

I was bullied in school, but it didn't last long. One girl tried to bully me and threaten me. I ended up in a fight and after that no one bothered me. Bad when it has to come to a fight to get someone to back up off of you. Before that I was teased a lot and even after that some still teased me and called me gay. I didn't take PE class because of me having just had a surgery for scoliosis the year before. I wanted to try public school after having been homeschooled for a year. The kids thought I was gay and that was my reason for getting out of PE all the time. I just never had that class on my schedule at all. Then I was bullied by one of my teachers. This is why I went back to homeschooling and after my oldest son was bullied in school in first grade and had sexual comments from a boy said to him on the bus I pulled him out. He attended for first and second. Things improved some for second, but he then became the one in the group of bullies. He was the second biggest child in his class in second grade (the biggest being the school bully). I noticed he enjoyed school, but he still wasn't in to it. It became about seeing friends and not doing school work. I pulled him out and he now homeschools. No worries about bullying other than him and his brothers doing it to each other. 

Bugsm... Bugsmom0307

I think it is very important for parents to talk to their kids about bullying and why they shouldn't do it to other kids. We also need to watch what he say in front of our kids. We sometimes unconsciously make remarks about someone's hairstyle or the way they are dressed. Our kids pick up on that and start thinking it's okay to treat people that way but it's definitely NOT! I hope parents take their kids to see this movie. It's very important.

nonmember avatar Christie

I think the biggest step in ending the bullying is keeping your kids OFF of the social networking sites.....
As all of other posters have said I was bullied and I know of other kids who were bullied in school too and the biggest relief was in knowing that that stupid bully could not reach me at home or at a friends house....the only way they could get to me was when our paths crossed in school....now these poor kids go home and are bullied online 24hrs a day 7 days a week....there is no break from the bullying and they can always go back and re-read the mean stuff that was written...If people really knew what was good for their kids they would keep them off of those sites anyway

mamav... mamavaness

my cousin, who is like a brother to me, would get bullied. He was one year younger than me and one day I saw this girl making fun of him. It was raining badly, so I shoved her in the mudd & beat her with my umbrella I got suspended in 4th grade for that...i know it wasnt right of me but he was never bullied again

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