Meet Our 2017 Upstander Legacy Celebration Host Maulik Pancholy


MAULIK HOSTS OUR 2017 UPSTANDER LEGACY CELEBRATION Get tickets now for the event on November 13 in New York City!

Thank you so much for hosting our 2017 Upstander Legacy Celebration on November 13th! Amidst your busy schedule, why was it important to you to make time to be our host?

The work Tyler Clementi Foundation is doing has become extremely important in the current climate. As a person of color and as a gay man, I’m well aware of the uptick we’re experiencing in bullying and hate crimes in seemingly all minority communities. The statistics are shocking and unacceptable. So, I’m grateful for the chance to lend a voice to supporting TCF.

Why is bullying prevention important to you? 

Growing up, I often felt like I didn’t “fit in”. I was a scrawny, nerdy, brown kid with braces and glasses, and I was dealing with coming out. Literally no one at my school openly identified as LGBT, so that struggle felt very isolating. I know that young people (and adults, too) need to feel like they matter and that they belong.

I’ve been alarmed by hearing stories of the kinds of emotional and physical violence people who are bullied experience, as well as the long term damage bullying can cause. Supporters of TCF already know about the increased risk of suicide, depression, anxiety, addiction and low self-esteem that can last into adulthood. People are often bullied for perceived differences. I hope we can offer young people the chance to celebrate their diversity and support one another so that everyone can achieve their full potential.

Tyler’s story was so impactful for many LGBTQ+ people of all ages. How did his story impact you?

I was horrified and deeply saddened. It’s hard to imagine the kind of pain a person must be experiencing to end their life. But for anyone who thinks bullying is just part of growing up, or just kids messing around, I’d ask them to take a moment to imagine Tyler on that bridge and what it must have felt like for him. All the things he could have been are now lost forever. I’m so moved by the courage of the Clementi family for taking action to create dialogue between parents, teachers, and students about what we all need to be doing better.

Why do you feel it’s important for people to stand up and stand out when they see bullying?

I believe we’re all in this together. We need each other. A kind word, a physical intervention, someone to help with the process of reporting and offering support—these are invaluable. Victims of bullying often experience shame, fear, and confusion around how to get help. So, we all have a responsibility to do the right thing. We all flourish when the environments we’re in are safe for everyone.  

tcf-social-maulik-tileDuring the Obama Administration, you were appointed by President Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Please share about the importance of AAPI representation and how you are continuing that great work now.

As a Commissioner, I focused a great deal on young AAPIs and ways we could better meet their needs. We were hearing reports of AAPI youth being bullied, in some instances, at rates that were double the national average. They also had unique circumstances – being bullied not only for appearance, or identity or sexuality, but also for things like religion, the foods they brought to school, for immigration status, and language proficiency. Often their parents did not fully grasp the bullying they were experiencing, and in many cases they did not know how to get help or report incidences. So, we created an AAPI Anti-Bullying Task Force at the White House. We did 29 listening sessions around the country, and out of that we launched an anti-bullying campaign designed to address the needs of young AAPIs called #ActToChange. 

We’ve moved #ActToChange outside of the White House now, and we are continuing to grow it. The campaign website,, includes video and music empowerment playlists, and encourages you to “Take a Pledge” to join the #ActToChange movement and stand up against bullying. As one out of three AAPIs does not speak English fluently, resources are available in Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Urdu, and Vietnamese. The campaign encourages AAPI youth and adults to share their stories, engage in community dialogues, and take action against bullying. The work of #ActToChange seems more important now than ever, much like TCF’s work. In fact the Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported that there has been a 91% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes during the first half of 2017 alone.

How can we better include AAPI students and adults in bullying prevention?

It’s a good question. I think a big part of this is just making sure we’re included in the conversation, so I appreciate you asking! Asian Americans are often victims of the “Model Minority Myth”: this idea that we all do well in school, have good jobs, succeed financially, and so forth. And that’s just not the case. AAPIs are an extremely diverse group. We trace our heritage to more than 30 different countries, and our challenges are as diverse as the communities we come from. While the effects of bullying might manifest in similar ways, helping a turban wearing student who is being called a terrorist vs. a helping a student being bulled for identifying as LGBT require different tools. We have to be specific about the cultural dialogue we engage in around both of those.

You’ve been a large part of a number of shows for young people like Disney’s Phineas and Ferb and Nickelodeon’s Sanjay & Craig. How do these shows influence youth to embrace diversity?

I love voicing cartoons! It’s so fun and so imaginative. And knowing that kids are getting to see shows with diverse casts is hugely important. I remember being a kid and watching Saturday morning cartoons and never seeing characters that looked like me. That can make you feel like your experience isn’t valid, or that you have to be more like someone else to fit in. So to be able to send a different message to young people is really important to me. Sanjay is the first lead Indian-American character on a network cartoon. He has a Caucasian mom and an Indian dad, and he’s just a 12-year old kid who likes to do what a lot of 12-year old kids like to do: hang out with his pet snake Craig and go on ridiculous adventures. It means a lot to me that I get to create a character that all kids, including Indian-American kids, can relate to.


Maulik Pancholy is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as Jonathan on 30 Rock, the voice of Baljeet Tjinder in Phineas and Ferb, Sanjay Patel in Weeds, and Nickelodeon animated series Sanjay and Craig..

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.


Why I Stand Up and Stand Out to End Bullying

I grew up in a small town with predominantly white neighbors, teachers and school mates. For the most part, many people were accepting of this small family of Pakistani-American’s that found a home in a new city.

However, what I remember most from my childhood are the moments where people were not-so accepting—the people that said horrendous things to my parents, siblings and me.

After the attacks on September 11th, the bullying got exponentially worse. I remember sitting in class as we discussed the terrorist attacks led by Islamic extremists and someone saying to me, “Tell your uncle Osama to stop bombing my country!”

I remember thinking to myself, “Isn’t this my country, too? I was born and raised in this country.”

Suddenly, my whole family noticed a change in our community. The cashier at the local grocery store wasn’t so accepting of my parents’ accents. She talked down to them and spoke slowly as if they couldn’t understand her. Why were people being such bullies? Were we doing something wrong? NO. The answer is NO.

tcf-social-uppal-tileIn today’s world, bullying is everywhere: on social media, in schools, at work, and in politics. I think the biggest problem we have is that children aren’t being taught to empathize.

My primary goal in life is to raise a good kid; I don’t mean a kid with straight A’s or a kid that is the star athlete. I mean a kid with a good nature, a nice person who likes to make everyone smile. I have a young daughter who is as curious as they get. She asks me questions like, “Why is that man in a wheelchair?” and “Why is that ladies skin darker than mine?” I tell her, “That’s one thing of many that makes that person special.” It’s difficult trying to explain to little children why they can’t say whatever is on their mind, but it’s a conversation parents need to have with their children. Children need to learn to empathize with others, to put themselves in others’ shoes and share the pain of there friends and neighbors.

As important as it is for me to teach my daughter to empathize, I find it equally important for her to stand up against bullying—whether it’s directed towards her or someone else. I show her all the ways she can use her voice, her words and her knowledge to change the world around her.

When I find out she is upset about something she saw in the news or something that happened to a schoolmate in preschool, I encourage my daughter to stand up and stand out, to do something that will make a difference. I never want her to feel like she can’t make a difference which is why I take pride in being a loud-mouthed, opinionated woman. All I can hope for is that she will follow suit one day and try to change the world around her for the better.

Meriam Uppal is a 29-year-old from Rochester Hills, Michigan, a Human Resources Manager for an automotive company in Rochester Hills, and a Political Science graduate from Wayne State University pursuing an MBA at Walsh College. She has been married for over 6 years and has a 4-year-old daughter..

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.


Mercer County Community College of New Jersey Takes the #Day1 Declaration

Mercer Community College starts their school year off with the #Day1 Declaration.

Have your college, university, school, organization or workplace take a stand against bullying with our free, easy-to-use #Day1 toolkit. Download it now


Meet Upstander Regent Empress XXXI Madison Ciccione Mansfield

Upstander Madison Mansfield
Many people may not familiar with the many things that the Imperial Court of New York does. Can you share a bit about it? 
The Imperial Court of New York is an organization that works alongside other charity organizations to bring attention to their causes and to raise much needed funds. Our membership is solely comprised of volunteers and everything we can and will do if for the betterment of our community.

The Imperial Court of New York recognizes the important work that the Tyler Clementi Foundation does in bullying prevention for students across all identities and abilities. How is the foundation’s work resonant to you?
At this time in America, it is vital to have an organization such as the Tyler Clementi Foundation. It appears that hate and bullying have become acceptable again. We as a nation need to do everything we can to teach people it is not okay to hate or to bully. We need to accept one another and teach compassion not hate.

Have you ever been bullied or felt like you were in a hostile space directed at you? If so, could you share what happened?
Yes, most definitely.  During my high school years, I became very shy and quiet. I understood that I was different and was coming to terms with the fact that I was gay.  On the bus ride home every day from school, I was called names, ridiculed and things were thrown at me on the bus and on my way home once I left the bus. No one stopped it or said anything to prevent this from happening to me. In my junior year, I finally had enough, and while I was walking home with items flying past my head, I stopped and turned around and said to the bully who has been doing this for years, “Would it help you if I stood still? Because you haven’t been able to hit my in all these years. So, maybe if I stood still, you could actually hit me.” Once I did this and stood up to the bully, he never again did anything to bother me. 
What do you think is the scariest thing about being bullied?
The scariest thing about being bullied is that you never know what someone is going through in their own head. Many people fight with overcoming their own personal demons, and sometimes, all is takes is one outside act of bullying or shaming to send someone over the edge. The results of this can be catastrophic.

tcf-social-upstander-madison-mansfield-tileHow should the community respond when we hear stories about someone being bullied?
The community as a whole should never allow bullying of any kind.  No one should be made to feel inferior, and none of us are any better that anyone else. We need to learn to accept one another and live in a peaceful manner, not one of hate and bullying.

Our #StandUpStandOut initiative is encouraging people to take the popular, free #Day1 toolkit to their communities, schools and workplaces in order to ensure commitment to bullying prevention through the declaration and pledge. How important is it to you that the community organizations you support and your workplace make a commitment to stand up against bullying, harassment and humiliation?
It is very important to me. I do not stand for bullying of any kind. I have been known for many years to be the person who will stand up for the underdog. Whether I like or believe in a person’s own personal beliefs or way of life, I truly believe in their right to be who they are. We must not judge one another. We must accept and understand each other.

Why is it important that people Stand Out to support bullying prevention?
It’s very important because we cannot be silent. Silence only breeds contempt and hate.  Standing up and letting your voice be heard is the only way progress can be made.

In your performances, your talents certainly stand out. What would you say to a young person who feels like they stand out because of who they are and might feel isolated because of it?
I actually have a friend who felt they were not being accepted because they like to dress & act provocative. I told them that they need to be true to themselves and to be authentic. If they felt they were not being accepted by those around them and that the were unable to change the minds of those around them, they should find a group that will accept them for who and what they are.

What can people expect to see at the Nobles’ Show this year? What are you excited about?
 What people should expect it a lot of fun, glamour, acceptance and love! The Nobles Show is when our “newer” members get to strut their stuff and show what they have to give. It is a way for the community to get to know them, and also, it’s a way for ICNY to get to know them better. Out of all the shows the ICNY puts on throughout the year, it’s The Nobles Show that highlights what were all about: Charity, Acceptance and Love for our community.

Regent Empress XXXI (31) Madison Ciccione Mansfield is the East Coast First Lady to the Americas, Grand Daughter to Queen Mother Nicole the Great, Queen Mother of the Americas, 2017 International Double Eagle Award Recipient – The Curvy Long Island Temptress of Serenity, Sincerity and Seduction, Her Imperial Majesty and so much more. Follow Madison on Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the Imperial Court of New York through Facebook and Twitter.

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.


Meet Upstander Paul Zemaitis


Remember, just because summer ends, bullying doesn’t end. You can #KeepItCool with Enjoyer’s special strawBERRY treat – buy one and get one to share with a friend! Proceeds support our work to end bullying prevention. Find out where you can get an icy treat today!

What is the story of Enjoyer?
Enjoyer was established by two vegan friends. We knew how hard is to get tasty and healthy vegan ice cream so we decided to produce and deliver it ourselves. Our mission is to deliver healthy joy for everyone!

How do you see being kind to others fitting into Enjoyer’s mission to deliver healthy joy for everyone?
We’re always sharing free popsicles in public places like camps, schools, and youth centers. We want to show that being nice is cool.

What prompted Enjoyer to support the Tyler Clementi Foundation for this special strawBERRY support promotion?
It’s important to us that we are out in the communities fostering real conversations, encouraging people to share kindness each day. The Tyler Clementi Foundation is the best partner who shares the point of view that sharing kindness is a great way to change the world and end bullying.

Showing kindness is much more powerful than being a bully.Why is bullying prevention important to you?
We think that there is too much aggression in our world. We just can’t continue to watch people behave poorly to people different from themselves. Some people are even cruel to animals! Enjoyer’s treats are vegan, environment friendly, and healthy. We want to share this positive attitude and show that being nice, especially to people around you that are different from you in many different ways, is cool. It’s crucial to have all people understand that starting from when we are children, showing kindness is much more powerful than being a bully.

What do you do to #KeepItCool when tempers flare up and you feel like a situation is getting hostile online or offline?
If it ever happens that there are any unhappy or angry faces, I find out what is happening, apologize if it is my fault or I accidentally caused any harm, and send a box of our best popsicles. Calm and kind communication helps every time.

Can you tell us about a time when a friend helped support you when others were being unkind?
I remember when I was in school, I needed some help with my math homework. The teacher told us that she explained enough. It was very difficult, because it looked like everyone really understood the lesson but me. Yet, no one wanted to help me. When the lesson ended, my friend came to me because I looked upset and took the time to explain everything I didn’t understand in the lesson. That was a kind thing to do. I was so glad and grateful for such a good friend.

strawBERRY popsiclesWho do you turn to for support when you are having a rough day?
I have few options to recover after having a rough day. The first one is go to exercise outside. Fresh air and increased power every time gives me a flash of energy and cleans my mind. Second good option is to go to play with my dog. Running, wrestling or playing with a ball brings happiness for both of us. Lastly, communication with friends, where we are talking and listening, cooking food together, going for a walk or playing basketball.

If you could say one thing to anyone who is the victim of bullying, what would it be?
Try to stay away from that guy who might not understand that he or she is doing something wrong. Try to find some friends for support and talk with an Upstander (in your school or at your office) who will listen, believe and support you.

Today, what will you do to show someone kindness?
I try to be kind all the time everywhere! We need to be kind to the people around us. Just today, I helped my parents with some yard work so they could relax more. You can also find me feeding a homeless dog if it comes to my yard or watering my neighbor’s flowers when they are on holiday.

Paulius Zemaitis (Paul Zemaitis) is the founder and CEO of Enjoyer born and raised in Lithuania. Learn more about him here.

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.


Stand Up and Be a Powerful Force to End the Hate

Like many in the past week, I’ve been bombarded by images of torch-wielding hate mongers, portraits of physical violence and intimidation, and the tragic loss of 3 precious lives.

As I learned about the Charlottesville events, I thought about my family’s recent trip to Montpelier and Monticello. My goal this summer was to create a safe space for my pre-teen daughter, Marie, to explore the truth about our nation’s dark past—long discussions about Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and how they managed their enslaved people coupled with our own Virginia family history. I could not have imagined how quickly an already difficult discussion could become exponentially more complicated as the Charlottesville events unfolded.

As we watched the video from witness’ accounts, we cried and tried very hard to make sense of the senseless. The Charlottesville tragedy pulled the scab off a wound we all carry from our shared and complicated American history.

As a nation, we must get ahead of this type of hostility in our classrooms, workplaces and houses of worship by standing up to bigotry, vitriol and bullying in all its forms. We must recognize that students of color, students who embrace diverse religious beliefs, students across the gender and sexual identity spectrum, students of all abilities and immigration statuses—we must all stand up for them.

I shared with Marie that to me, being an #Upstander is to be a powerful, positive force in our work to bring forward justice, equality, fairness and compassion.

If you haven’t taken the Upstander Pledge, now is the time to take it. If you have taken the pledge, now is the time to share it with others.

If you are ready to talk to your children’s teachers or school administrators about how #Day1‘s bullying prevention tools are simple, easy-to-sue and effective methods to ensure your child’s classroom is taking steps to prevent hostility, then download the free toolkit now.

Let your community know that together, we can and WILL end bullying.


Meet Upstander Francesca Murdoch

Francesca Murdoch with her parents at awards ceremony

The deadline for youth to enter the 2017 Community Access New York Mental Health Film Festival’s Young Filmmaker’s Competition is August 31! Get more information and enter now.

What are you most excited about doing in this next school year?
At the moment, I’m most excited about rehearsals for our school’s fall play, which is Is He Dead by Mark Twain, and for my language classes to start again. I’m studying Latin and French at school, but I’ve also grown up bilingually – English and German.
Where do you go for cinematic inspiration?
I get a lot of my inspiration from the courses I take, in school and outside of it. A major influence on me was a film camp with the instructor J.P. Morgan at SUNY Purchase, as well as Jonathan Bucari’s film club at the Lighthouse Theater in Armonk, and I also draw a lot from the acting classes I take at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute at the moment.
Still from Francesca Murdoch's short film

Still from “Intervention”

Share a little summary about your winning film short “Intervention” from last year and what inspired you to create it. See the trailer and follow the short film’s progress here.
The film is about the relationship between a teenage girl and a boy her age who struggles with domestic abuse, mental health issues, and social isolation. James, the male main character in “Intervention”, deals with an unbearable situation at home, is an outsider in school and has nobody to turn to until he meets Sarah, but even she doesn’t manage to save him. The idea actually came about as part of the film club I attended at The Lighthouse Theater, where I came up with the story with a group of kids my age. We were asked to write a screenplay to produce into a film, and although “Intervention” was ultimately passed over in favor of a more lighthearted screenplay, the club’s instructor, Jonathan Bucari, encouraged me to make the film after the club ended.
“Intervention” shares the importance of standing up and standing out when you see someone facing challenges to their mental health. How do you feel this is also important when you see bullying?
It’s important in both cases because people dealing with bullying and mental health issues can start to feel alone and as though they have nowhere to turn to. Knowing that there is someone out there who cares about what you’re going through, being able to talk about it and not having to be ashamed of it can make the situation feel so much more livable and so much more hopeful.

tcf-social-francesca-murdoch-tileHave you ever experienced or witnessed people being bullied? Can you share a little about that?
A close friend of mine has struggled pretty badly with bullying in the past, and it has been incredibly hard on him.  It is unbelievable how horrible people can be, and I hate the idea that anyone has to go through what he did.  

What resources do you think a person should have available to respond to bullying?
As a teenager myself, I think it is important to have someone you can trust and count on for support in your life, whether it’s someone your age, a parent, a teacher, or a guidance counselor.  If you feel like your struggle is being ignored or if you have to stand up against bullies on your own, it’s easy to feel helpless, overwhelmed, and desperate.  
What do you think are the impacts of a person standing out in a community that is often silent?  What about the effect or challenges it has on the person standing out?
Even if it is hard, and sometimes also scary, for the person standing out at first, their involvement can make it easier for others to step forward and to also stand up for others.  Having someone stand up for you can make a world of difference if you’re dealing with bullying and mental health issues alike.
Francesca Murdoch with cast of short film at award ceremonyHow do you think your film and this competition help to inspire others to speak out rather than be bystanders around issues of mental health or when they see bullying?
The Community Access New York Mental Health Film Festival’s Young Filmmaker’s Competition is so incredibly important because it gives kids and teenagers like me a platform and a place to be heard.  I think at this age it’s easy to feel like standing up or trying to share our point of view is impossible or pointless, but the competition, as well as my film, will hopefully show that teenagers have a voice that can be heard after all.
How do you think young people can be more involved in their own schools to encourage discussion of mental health?
There’s a group at my school called LETS (Let’s End The Stigma), which does outreach and raises awareness.  Involvement in clubs like that, as well as standing by people struggling with mental illness and making sure they know they’re not alone, are incredibly important ways of getting involved at school.  For many, there’s still a stigma attached to admitting that you are struggling with mental health issues, that’s something we need to change. If people feel they can talk about their struggles, they may be more likely to find help.
What projects are you working on now?
I’ve been focusing on theater and on acting a lot more recently, but I’ve still got a few short film scripts on the go, and I’d love to write a feature film, too.

Born in New York City, Francesca has always had a strong interest in the arts. Shortly before her 13th birthday, Francesca wrote and directed her short film, “Intervention,” which deals with a teenager suffering from anxiety and depression, and which has screened at a number of festivals across the U.S. Since then, Francesca won awards as the first freshman ever in Rye High School’s Zephyr Writing Competition for her poem and her short story, and she has learned to speak French and Hungarian. She continues to support causes that make the world a better place.

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.


Meet Upstander Maureen Kelly

Tarte Cosmetics Founder and CEO Maureen Kelly

Join others across the nation for #kissandmakeup Day on August 25! Learn how you can join the movement to end cyber-bullying today!

tarte started out of your apartment in New York City! That is amazing. What inspired you to create the cosmetics brand?
I was pursuing a PhD in psychology when I realized that life is just too short to waste time, so I followed my dreams! I’d always wanted to create fun, easy beauty products that made whoever wore them feel beautiful inside & out.
Please share details about the #kissandmakeup campaign and why you think it’s had such a profound response.
tarte’s huge social media presence actually helped me see how much cyberbullying is out there. Bullying isn’t just on the playground or in classrooms anymore. It’s scary, but people can be bullied anywhere & anytime now thanks to the internet. That’s why we started our #kissandmakeup campaign (don’t be mean behind the screen), which is easy to participate in:

  • After applying a fresh coat of lipstick, kiss your hand and place over your mouth. Post your selfie on Instagram using #kissandmakeup.
  • Please tag a friend in your photo, sending them a compliment and tag @tartecosmetics and @tyler_clementi_foundation
  • tarte will repost some of the selfies, sharing with their IG community of over 6 million fans

I think it’s really resonated with people because sadly, everyone knows someone that has been bullied, myself included. I’m a mom of two boys and we discuss in our household regularly. I can’t tell you how many heartbreaking stories I’ve heard since we started #kissandmakeup. I hope that by inspiring others to share positive messages on Instagram, people realize it’s cool to be nice, & that it starts a domino effect of kindness.
How do you see showing kindness to others playing a role in the quality of people’s lives? How does it play a role in your own?
Giving people the keys to feeling confident & encouraging kindness is a principle I have always stood by. Respect others as you hope to be respected! It isn’t hard & goes such a long way toward making the world a better place. Start by smiling more. Studies show that simply by smiling, it makes you & those around you feel happier & more secure. Compassion is contagious!
tcf-social-maureen-kelly-tileWhat inspired you to include the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s bullying prevention and awareness messages as part of the #kissandmakeup campaign? Why is bullying prevention important to you?
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, myself included! Not only have I seen it happen to my own employees, but I’m a mom and have sadly seen my kids experience it as well. When I was younger, I came home from school & there was no social media, so I could just unplug & didn’t have to deal with Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook. 

Today’s landscape is clearly much different. Bullies need to know that there can be life-changing consequences to their behavior & this heartless, unnecessary negativity needs to end now. Not only does Tyler’s devastating story highlight those consequences in a very real way, but makes it clear that serious conversations about bullying – in all communities – are long overdue. The Tyler Clementi Foundation offers incredible resources that make it easier to start those conversations, getting us closer to stopping bullying once and for all.
How do you know when you see bullying?
Bullying can be as “small” as a snide comment or as big as physical abuse, but no matter the form bullying takes, it’s hurtful. It’s on all of us to intervene when we see it, which can take real courage, but it can also seriously change lives.
Women in the workplace often report experiences where they were bullied or harassed. You have incredible experience running a large company with a diverse team. In addition to the foundation’s #Day1 bullying prevention toolkit, what are other ways companies around the country can ensure that all employees across identities and abilities are treated with dignity and respect?
The tone of corporate culture is set from the top down. It’s so important for executives & managers to create a collaborative, positive environment. By enforcing anti-bullying policies, shutting down gossip, & standing up for their team members, we can create more respectful work environments.
#Day1 is also used in classrooms across the country to create safe space for all students, asking each student to be #Upstander to bullying and not a bystander. Should schools be taking a pro-active approach to prevent bullying? In addition to the #Day1 toolkit, what resources do you think a school should have available to prevent bullying?
Schools should absolutely be taking a proactive approach to prevent bullying. It should not just be the responsibilities of the students to stand up against bullies. Teachers should not just shrug off certain behaviors. There should be a focus on building empathy & teamwork among students. Additionally, school faculty can designate themselves as allies against bullying so students know they have an adult they can trust, & who will intervene if students need help.
What do you do to let your child know that it is ok to talk to you when they feel like they might be being bullied?
I always tell my sons that they can come talk to me about anything & I will listen, without judgment, to what they have to say. My #1 job is being their mom, & I will do anything I can to help them solve a problem – even if all they want is a sounding board.
Do you think bullies can change? How?
I think many bullies have the ability to change their behavior, but a big part of that change is by shifting the mindset behind bullying in society– it’s never funny or cool to tease or humiliate others. It’s going to take a lot of work, but once bullies recognize this & empathize with those they’ve treated poorly, the world will become a lot kinder.

Maureen Kelly is the CEO & founder of tarte cosmetics, a cruelty-free line of easy-to-use products packed with healthy ingredients that deliver real results. She’s also a Starbucks lover & beach bum! When she isn’t working on creating the next covetable new tarte launch, she’s at the beach with her husband & two sons. Learn more about Maureen and tarte on Twitter and Facebook.

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.


You Can Stop Bullying and Cyberbullying In Its Tracks


It’s happened to all of us – our temper rises, our muscles clench, and suddenly, we’re not thinking. In our fury, we’re spitting out or furiously typing words that don’t’ represent our character, or who we are. Often, in the heat of a tense situation, emotions can run high, and that’s when bullying or cyber-bullying occurs. When this happens, how do we know to tone it down? De-escalation can be critical to protecting victims and ensuring that bullies or cyberbullies are safely stopped. How, then, do we de-escalate the situation or #KeepItCool?

From a proactive perspective, stopping cyberbullying before the damage is done can be rooted in pledging to a movement or a solution that aims to stop the spread of hurtful words. At the Tyler Clementi Foundation, the #Day1 program aims to do this by encouraging individuals to pledge to stop cyberbullying with their fellow peers. From schools to the workplace, with a teacher or a director leading individuals in a verbal acknowledgement in the harm of bullying and cyber bullying, the #Day1 program can help promote tolerance and understanding on “Day 1” in groups of individuals. Furthermore, taking a stand using #Day1 can help spread positivity and the spirit of being an upstander, not a bystander.

Technology can also be used to help address an issue that it has created. Another effective solution, ReThink, aims to proactively de-escalate cyberbullying online by empowering users to think twice before posting or sending any offensive content to anyone. When an individual attempts to post an offensive message online, such as “You are so ugly,” ReThink gives that individual a chance to reconsider: “Are you sure you want to say that? It could be offensive.” Globally acclaimed research shows that 93% of the time, adolescents using ReThink changed their minds and decided not to post offensive content.

tcf-social-keep-cool-deescalation-tileIn the midst of bullying or cyberbullying, however, how can one de-escalate the situation? Immediate actions vary based on one’s role in the situations. For victims, it can be critical to immediately distance yourself and ignore the bully. Scientific research shows that offenders often crave attention; by ignoring them, victims remove any incentive for bullies or cyberbullies to hurt others. Block them online, or walk away from the situation. There is never any shame in distancing yourself from a bully or a cyberbully. By walking away, you are elevating yourself above their hurtful words, and showing them you will not lower yourself to their antics. If you are suffering specifically from cyberbullying, save any evidence. Immediately contact a trusted adult or law enforcement with your evidence – do not try to tackle the situation on your own. An important facet of de-escalation is ensuring you do not intensify the bullying or cyberbullying. Though it can be intimidating or frightening, talking to an adult or trusted friend is the best way to de-escalate the situation.

There is, however, another possible role in a bullying or cyberbullying situation: the role of the upstander. When in a hallway or online, upstanders see the bullying or cyberbullying and directly address the bully or cyberbullying. In order to effectively de-escalate the situation while confronting the offender, upstanders have to be careful. As an upstander, if you see something offensive, do not attack the bully or cyberbully. Instead, state the fact that you believe their actions are negative and hurtful. Come to the root of the problem without insulting the offender: “I’m disappointed that you would use language like that, and I do not approve of your conduct.” Then, walk away. There is no need to engage or heighten the bully or cyberbully in a fight. Even one moment of advocacy can be enough to stop a bully or cyberbully in his or her tracks.

Bullying and cyberbullying are issues that affect millions of teenagers across the globe, and increasingly, it’s becoming important that young people speak up. As a teenager myself, I know that that we can only tackle this silent pandemic when we make the conscious decision to de-escalate hate on a local and global level. Find your voice – and use it to spread positivity.

Learn more tips and see more resources for how you can #KeepItCool this summer.

Trisha Prabhu is Founder and CEO of ReThink, Inc. as well as a Tyler Clementi Foundation board member. Learn more about her here.

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.


Keep It Cool By Building Online Civility

There’s no denying that we are experiencing a time when there is a crack in civility online. According to a new survey, eighty-four percent of Americans have experienced incivility first-hand and sixty-nine percent believe that social media and the Internet are to blame.

Seventy-five percent of American’s believe that the change begins with us.

How can we help de-escalate incivility?

First, we need to understand the “why”: Much of our online behavior is a reflection of our offline character.

Make no mistake about it, the first impression most people will have of us is our digital one. From college recruiters reviewing social media feeds to employers examining digital reputations, your virtual behavior can determine your future.

Most importantly, empathy for others-not only offline–but especially online, is exactly how we can combat incivility and cruelty.

Patience is a virtue.

As cliché as it sounds, this phrase is one that we can all stand to remember and refer to these days, especially when it comes to sending a hasty text message or sensitive email. Wait 24-hours.

Download these social tiles to share in your network and prevent cyberbullying.

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Waiting to send will give you time to consider the “3 C’s of Social Media” (aka, “How To Keep It Cool Online”):

  • Conduct: Control yourself. Remember, there’s a person on other side of the screen.
  • Content: Limit your sharing. Will what you are about to share embarrass or humiliate someone?
  • Caring: Are you posting with empathy?

Help, I can’t believe they posted that!

Most of us have had the experience of reading a post that elicits our darker angels and makes us want to respond to with anger. Who hasn’t had a bad day that makes us want to lash out with our keypad? This is exactly when we need to keep it cool. Consider the 3 C’s above, and implement the art of not commenting or simply clicking out.

Learn to use your words with wisdom, be constructive, not combative. Commenting is a privilege. It’s an opportunity for you to showcase respect. If you don’t think you can do this– there is nothing wrong with a little digital detox or simply moving on from the post.

As I often tell others, when in doubt — it’s time to click out.

Quality over quantity: When “like’s,” forwards and comments perpetrate hate.

Have you ever considered that when you “like,” forward or even comment on a video, image, message or any social media post — it is the same as endorsing it? We watch people carelessly “liking” photos, messages and other things online without really thinking what they are about. Some are forwarding mean memes or questionable content without realizing the consequences. They are staking their reputation on their online actions.

Hate perpetrates hate.

When you keep it cool, you get the opportunity to pause, read that post, listen to that video, and think — is this really something I want to put my stamp of approval on? Remember, your name will be forever associated whatever it is.

Kids today are especially quick to seek validation through the number of “likes” they get without realizing that these are not quality endorsements. The same people who “like” you today might turn on you in a “snap” or with one post gone ugly.

As summer heats up, it’s important that we all remember, no matter what our age, when it comes to digital devices, it’s important to keep our cool. You will be surprised at how this can drastically reduce your chances of becoming a perpetrator or victim of digital disaster.

Learn more tips and see more resources for how you can #KeepItCool this summer.

tcf-post2174-expert-sue-scheffFounder and President of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts Inc. (P.U.R.E.™), Sue Scheff has been leveraging her personal experiences to help others through her organization since 2001. She is a Family Internet Safety Advocate determined to save other parents from encountering the same challenges and issues she faced when searching for a safe, effective program for her own daughter during her troubled teen years. Sue Scheff established P.U.R.E.™ as an advocacy organization to educate parents about the schooling and program options available to pre-teens and teenagers experiencing behavioral problems. She is the author of the book Shame Nation. You can find her blog here. She is also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.


New Video

Jane Clementi speaks at the GCN Conference 2017 General Session