I start this blog post as a testament to all the young people who see no good way out of the pain endured from repetitive bullying or feeling marginalized for things completely outside their control. Suicide rates among youth are horrific—according to the CDC, 4,400 young people kill themselves annually, with 100 times that many attempting suicide. Numerous studies, including those conducted by Yale University, JAMA Pediatrics, and Adolescent Health, show that youth who are bullied, especially victims of cyberbullying, are much more likely to try to kill themselves. Whether because of looks, beliefs, sexuality, or a whole host of other reasons, bullying takes many forms and happens every day in every kind of school and in every kind of community. It’s blind to class and race, ethnicity and gender.
This blog is equally a celebration of young people everywhere who are trying to figure out who they are and then live their lives true to that journey of discovery. How do we create such inclusive environments for young people that bullying simply can’t take root? What has to happen for them to become upstanders, not bystanders? When people stand up to a bully, the bully has nowhere to go.

Camp Fire’s Thrive{ology} framework introduces young people to the process through which they discover who they are and, in so doing, find their voice and their passions in life. When young people achieve that over time and it’s reinforced by the most important people in their lives—their families, their schools and their communities—they thrive. And research is clear—-they have greater hope in their present and their future. They’re more self-confident because they feel good about the people they’re becoming and it’s reinforced by those most important to them. They learn how to effectively manage the daily pressures they face—including how to stand up to bullies.

Therefore, Camp Fire’s National Youth Advisory Cabinet takes a different approach to recognizing October as National Bullying Prevention Month. Through the social media campaign Stand Up. Stand Out, they invite America’s young people to lift their voice and stand up for who they are—to see the best in themselves and those around them. To not feel “limited” by what others see but, instead, to believe that if they work to be their best, full selves, most—though maybe not all—will also stand up and respect them for the effort.

Being true to ourselves is hard work. It’s no easier for an adult than it is for a teen. At Camp Fire, we believe—and our teen leaders know—the only way for America’s youth to thrive is for them to be acknowledged for who they are and to learn how to effectively navigate the hurdles they face daily. When they find and lift their voice for themselves, they will lift their voice for others—for all those people out there who just need more champions and fewer bullies.

So, let’s not let the pain and embarrassment experienced by so many young people who feel bullied go unchallenged. Let’s join together and Stand Up. Stand Out for the young people in our lives and in our communities. Tragedy only has meaning for society when it forces society to examine its ways and to make the changes required to avoid future tragedies.

America’s young people are counting on us. It begins now.

Cathy Tisdale, Camp Fire CEO