RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Combating bullying is a cause near and dear to Jane Clementi’s heart.
This fall will mark 10 years since she lost her son Tyler to suicide. The tragedy was a result of the teen being cyber bullied. It put a national spotlight on the trend and gave the New Jersey mom a purpose.
“It is a non-partisan issue, bullying. We need to make sure that we have everyone on board,” Clementi said.
The anti-bullying advocate joined forces with New Jersey congressman Josh Gottheimer Monday at the Ridgewood YMCA, announcing the launch of a new North Jersey anti-bullying task force where Clementi will serve as chair.
“It’s very important given that one out of five kids have been bullied and we got to do something about this because it happens across the spectrum,” said Gottheimer.
The task force is part of a larger action plan rolled out by Gottheimer’s office aiming to improve data in incident reporting, increase conversations between schools and parents and to ensure social media companies are properly combating cyber bullying
“We believe people should be up-standers, someone that can speak up stand up and not be a passive bystander when they see someone being targeted or humiliated and just calling out poor behavior,” said Clementi.
According to a recent study, 15 percent of high school students are regularly bullied online or by text. A bulk of them don’t feel comfortable speaking up and In some cases, the victims feel like there is no escape and resort to suicide, an outcome Jane Clementi knows all too well about. It’s why she’s up for the challenge.
“It is very difficult to revisit really the darkest period of my life but it is also great to connect with people and it’s also great to know that the people that I meet are not alone,” she said.