Like everything else in the new century, bullying has been affected by the Internet. No longer content with shaking down classmates for lunch money or stuffing freshman into lockers, bullies now lurk behind computer screens and cell phones. Cyber bullying, the willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices, has become an epidemic.
The recent story of a Rutgers University student taking his own life, as well as the tragic story of four separate student suicides in an affluent Ohio suburb brings the issue of bullying to the forefront.
So what’s a teen to do?
For teens and young adults throughout New Jersey, there’s 2NDFLOOR®, a statewide toll free, confidential and anonymous helpline for youth (ages 10-24) to call with their day-to-day concerns. Professional staff and trained volunteers are waiting on the other end of the line 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to listen to their concerns and offer them advice and comfort.
Since its inception in 2003, 2NDFLOOR® has provided a youth helpline that offers an open entry point, regardless of topic, to children and young adults through a dedicated call center and interactive website. In 2008, 2NDFLOOR® expanded its operational hours to 24 hours a day everyday and its reach to all 21 New Jersey counties. In the past year, the helpline had more than 120,000 conversations with youth from around New Jersey. Additionally, the 2NDFLOOR® website logged more than 148,000 visits.
A recent posting on 2NDFLOOR®’s interactive message board illustrates what teens are experiencing in their everyday lives. It read: “I talk to alot a people at school but i’m not like really friends with anyone so i really want to fit in as best as i can. At lunch, our table maybe consists of 8 people including me, my side of the table bullies a girl on the other side of the table. to shorten it they basically use code names to make fun of her. Although she knows they are making fun of her theirs nothing she can do. And whats worst is that sometimes i laugh at some of the stuff they say. I don’t hate the girl they bully, i just think some of the stuff is funny. I’m really angry with myself because first of all i always hated bullying and now i’m part of it and also i feel really bad for the girl because i am too afraid to stick up for her.”
2NDFLOOR® was established by 180 Turning Lives Around, a Monmouth County-based private nonprofit organization dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence in our community. 180 designed, built, and secured private funding for 2NDFLOOR® to address the broad and complex challenges facing our youth, including substance abuse, sexuality, peer/family relationships, and violence.
A combination of the exploding social media and hard economic times has created an increase in the need for services and a decrease in donations and other funding necessary to run the program.
Teens needing assistance can call 2NDFLOOR®at 888-222-2228 or visit www.2ndfloor.org.
For more information on becoming a 2NDFLOOR® volunteer or to make a donation, contact 732-264-4360 ext 2228 or for more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.2ndfloor.org.
Executive Director of 180 Turning Lives Around in Hazlet, NJ.
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