Tag Archives | bullying

This is what happens when the Minecraft community accepts the challenge – autism, bullying

Hi, I’m AutismFather. Well, that’s what I’m known as in Minecraft. I recently created a Minecraft server for children with autism and their families. Due to its crazy success and the incredible amount of stories from those children about how often they’re bullied, not just in real life but on other Minecraft servers, I put out a challenge to the Minecraft community to speak up and take a stand against bullying on April 2nd, Autism Awareness Day.

Most people seem to believe bullying can’t be stopped and that it’s just a regular part of growing up or that it’s so common place now that it’s a normal part of life. So I figured people would think it’s nice that I want to try and stop it but that it’s really quite pointless.

To be honest, I thought that my plea for help would go largely ignored.

I was wrong.

Support

Support on Twitter

Support on Twitter

Twitter lit up, sharing my blog post and retweeting it far more than I ever expected and then a couple days later, I discovered that it was shared to reddit. I thought to myself that, knowing reddit, I should just not even click because reading the comments there often upsets me. But I was getting a lot of clicks, so I checked it out. To my surprise, it had received over 1200 “up votes” and 200 comments and almost the entirety of it was in support of what I was doing. People opened up about their own experiences with bullying and people were vowing to pitch in and help out. It was awesome!

People told me that bullies would never stop bullying just because I or anyone else asks them too and then I discovered discussions such as this one: http://forum.minecraftpvp.com/t/minecraft-and-autism/46082

Videos are already starting to appear:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCWH4jRRaJw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp3I9yL6lpM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUEekNgbfMs#t=175
(Please give them a thumbs up and/or comment to show support. They’re pretty awesome to do this.)

The Marathon

Created by LapisLauri

Created by LapisLauri

One Saturday, March 29th, 14 different live streaming Minecraft players got together and filled over 12 hours of consistent live video to help support my server (Autcraft) by raising money and also awareness of not just the server but autism in general as well as bullying.

The campaign raised $800 in total for the server but more importantly, got people talking. During several live streams, I joined in to discuss what autism is, why autistics are targeted often by bullies and some of the things to be aware of when you see an autistic on a server, especially if you see them being bullied.

This spurred on more conversations both in the chats of those streams and on forums and twitter (that I saw). It was extremely encouraging to see and be a part of.

Some live stream entertainers went the extra mile, setting benchmarks along the way as AudioModdified danced for the entire “What Does the Fox Say?” song, Tewkesape did 20 sit-ups at one milestone and then “twerked” (or tried to) at another and finally, HypeGameboy shaved his head on camera for all to see when we reached $700.

So I have to include a huge thank you to those that dedicated their time and support in this: Wout12345MKtheWorstKohdWingWynAudioModdifiedHardingboyz, Hype, Pantertainment, Tewkesape, Braveheart1234TheQxQ, ClasslessDeadra, Glis6Jarren and OneWolfe.

An even bigger thanks to Graphoniac who came up with the idea and organized the whole thing. This was a huge undertaking that I, personally, will never ever forget and just can’t thank her enough for.

And the biggest thanks goes to those that donated, participated and showed your support. If you listened to any of it, you took the time to just find out what I am all about or what I’m doing, I just can’t thank you enough.

What now?

Well, the money from the marathon is already set and ready to go towards new servers. Our server has some very unique challenges in that survival servers were never really meant to be networked together the way minigame servers are. So we have to solve many problems, have all new plugins developed and most of all, get even more servers. Growing to 3800 people on the whitelist in 9 months has not been cheap and so the money raised is just an incredible life saver for me.

We’re going to continue to be there for these children and their families. We’re going to be there for as long and as many that need us.

And for the fight against bullying in the Minecraft community? Well, this blog post continues to build upon that. I’ve written 2 rather dark posts to help show just how bad the problem really is.

This post, I hope, both counters and adds to those posts by proving that the Minecraft community will not sit idly by and let this happen. Whether people think that bullying is normal in schools or on the Internet or anywhere else, clearly the Minecraft community refuses to accept that it should have any presence on our servers.

This is very encouraging to me. I hope it’s encouraging to you as well.

Help Stop Bullying

Help Stop Bullying

Please, don’t sit back and hope that others will speak up so that you don’t have to. Record a video, write an article, tweet it, share it, get on a server to talk about it… what ever you need to do whether your audience is 10 or 10,000, please don’t ever think that you’re not important enough to make a very real difference and a very real positive change.

This post should prove to you that bullies can change, people will stand up and support you and that lives can be saved. All you need is a keyboard and the passion to see it through.

By doing this on April 2nd, you won’t just be supporting me. Not anymore. You’ll be joining us. All of us. The Minecraft community and the autism community and everyone that has decided that it’s not ok and that it’s time for the bullying to stop.

I’ve always been proud to be a part of the Minecraft community but now I have a whole other level of respect and admiration for this great group of people. We still have a few days to go until April 2nd and already I am seeing changes being made and lives being affected. That’s a very powerful thing.

Big things are happening and I would love for you to be a part of it.

Thank you for your support.

Stuart (aka AutismFather)

Comments { 2 }

What if I fail even just one time – on Minecraft, autism, bullying and suicide

I wrote recently, a plea to the Minecraft community from the autism community for help on April 2nd because I had received not one but two messages from children that were ready to take that final action, suicide. They’re both great kids but their lives are plagued by bullies. It affected me, I became emotional and that post was the result.

bullying - suicide

Click for full size

Monday morning, the start of a brand new week and first thing in the morning, another child was on the server, demolishing his buildings, giving away all his belongings and talking of committing suicide. The difference this time being that he refused to talk to me in private. 3 hours of talking to him and working with him and eventually he was building again and feeling better again… and it was all made public for the whole server to see.

On average, using my best math and recollection, I’ve had a conversation like this with a child at least once a week since I started the server just about 9 months ago. This is the first time that it’s been in front of everyone.

Perhaps it’s because it was public that, for the first time, I started to ask myself, what if I fail? Even just one time… what if I can’t help? Maybe I already have and just never got word about it. But what if I do fail and I do get an email. What then? What will I feel? How will I react? What will I do?

I’ll be honest, a million answers run through my mind and the majority of them are not good. But I feel that I can’t honestly even pretend to know. If 2 great kids coming to me in one week can catch me off guard the way it did, then getting such terrible news could only be worse, right?

The more I think about it though, the more I realize that there’s only two things I know for certain.

1. In 9 months, 3700 people with autism have joined my server. 3700 children that are bullied on every other server they try. There should not be 3700 in total much less that many in 9 months. And my server has only been spread by word of mouth. These numbers should be alarming to you.

2. I am going to fail eventually. Even the best, most well trained professionals can’t save every person that has reached that level of desperation. Me? Well, I’m not trained and I’m certainly not a professional. The law of averages is working against me in this case as the reality of it is, I can only keep doing this for so long before I find myself facing down a parent’s last email to me.

I can’t even begin to tell you how terrifying that is to me.

It’s time to get proactive.

Instead of sitting back and waiting for that to happen I’m going to try my best to motivate enough people into taking action on this.

What I need is to reach as many Minecraft players as I can. Whether you make videos, live stream or just play on servers with others to please speak up on April 2nd, Autism Awareness Day and tell the world that you are taking a stand against bullying.

Then, every day after, when you see someone being treated unfairly, rudely, brutally or in any other manner that resembles a form of bullying, don’t just turn away… please, say something.

Let those bullies know that you are not ok with how they are treating others and that it’s not going to be tolerated any more.

Don’t just do this because it’s the nice thing to do and certainly don’t do it as a favor to me… do it for those children that should never even be thinking these terrible thoughts much less ending their own lives before they ever had a chance to really truly live them.

Bullying doesn’t just target autistics, that’s true, but autistics get it far worse. As we all know, bullies prey on those that are different somehow and being different pretty much defines the autistic experience. This is why this is my focus and this is why I encourage you to speak out collectively on Autism Awareness Day but the truth is that this is for everyone that has ever been bullied everywhere.

By doing this, by speaking up even just one time, you could be saving someone’s life. All they need to know is that someone cares and that there’s more to life than just the bullies.

Please spread the word. Please help.

Comments { 9 }

This is a plea to the Minecraft community from the autism community for help on April 2nd.

Creeper On your Dessssssktop 2 by BrotherPrime

Creeper On your Dessssssktop 2
by BrotherPrime

This is a plea to the Minecraft Community from myself and the Autism Community, whether you are with Mojang, or you create videos for Youtube, do live streams or just play on servers with other people, I beg you for just a moment of your time.

Recent studies show that children with autism are 4 times more likely to be bullied than anyone else. And although research can’t ever rate such a thing, I can assure you that the severity of the bullying is far worse as well. These studies are done in schools and playgrounds. But if I were to guess, I’d imagine these numbers to be far, far worse in the Minecraft Community.

I started my server for children with autism less than 9 months ago and in that time, I watched our whitelist skyrocket to over 3600 people. Each of them with the same story… they were bullied on every server they went to.

Just last night, a new player said ‘this is the only server i have found without being judged for being “different”‘.

This is just not ok.

I am a grown man with 2 children of my own. I can’t remember the last time I cried. Maybe when I was 6? But I can honestly tell you, with no shame, that I couldn’t help but cry last night as I had received the 2nd email in less than a week as 2 separate children were reaching out to me because they had a knife in their hand and they were done. They’re hurting themselves, their parents can’t help them, they’re bullied and beaten every single day, they have no friends and they can’t take it anymore. They seek solice with the game they love but on every server they try, they find more of the same. They’re griefed repeatedly, killed constantly and people say the absolute worst, most hurtful things they can say to them. Sometimes it’s even from the server admins.

Each of their messages to me finish the same… “I feel like you’re the only one I can talk to AF”.

Something in me broke. I couldn’t hold it back anymore. It really hurt and I cried.

If I was to average it out, I’d say that I’ve received a message from a different child at least once every week since starting the server 9 months ago. Just 1 child, emailing a server owner, reaching out because they can’t take the abuse anymore, is too many. But once a week for 9 months?

It shouldn’t be like this. We have to do better.

So on April 2nd, Autism Awareness Day, I’m asking… no, I’m begging, the Minecraft Community to stand up with the Autism Community and declare that it’s time to put an end to bullying. Bullying of autistics, bullying of anyone that’s different and bullying in general.

Proclaim it in your livestreams, in your videos, in your blogs, press releases and even on the servers that you go to that bullying is wrong.

And if you see someone being bullied, speak up. Don’t be afraid. You tell them that bullying doesn’t belong here and it’s not going to be tolerated anymore.

Please, I can’t do this on my own anymore. I will always be here for these kids when they need me but they shouldn’t have to need me. They shouldn’t have to come to my server to find someplace safe to play. They shouldn’t have to feel so scared.

The Minecraft community is incredible. I know it, I’ve seen it. I love being a part of it. But we can do better.

Please, as the owner of a server that I wish had never been successful in the first place, that I wish had never been needed to be created in the first place, as a fellow Minecraft player, as a father, as an autistic myself, as the father of an autistic child and as a friend… please help me.

If just one person is bullied just one time less than they would have been before, sure, it might not change the world but it’s a start. It means everything.

Please help. On April 2nd, let’s do better.

On Autism Awareness Day, let’s do more than just raise awareness.

Stuart Duncan (aka AutismFather)
Owner of Autcraft

Comments { 31 }

The Happy Birthday Colin fan page vs the ghost of Christmas future

I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now but if not, there’s a Facebok fan page out there called Happy Birthday Colin that a mother created for her son to prove to him that there are caring people in the world. To best explain it is to use her own words from it’s title status:

I am Colin’s mom, I created this page for my amazing, wonderful, challenging son who is about to turn 11 on March 9th. Because of Colin’s disabilities, social skills are not easy for him, and he often acts out in school, and the other kids don’t like him. So when I asked him if he wanted a party for his birthday, he said there wasn’t a point because he has no friends. He eats lunch alone in the office everyday because no one will let him sit with them, and rather than force someone to be unhappy with his presence, he sits alone in the office. So I thought, if I could create a page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words, that would be better than any birthday party. Please join me in making my very original son feel special on his day.

It’s a nice gesture, a well intentioned thought. And the response has been incredible. Their fan page just hit over 2,000,000 likes as of the time of this writing, which is more than most Hollywood celebrities get. They also get a lot of mail delivered to their local post office, again, more than most Hollywood celebrities. Naturally, this will be rather short lived as he’s not a Hollywood celebrity and his birthday is just one day and basically, his 15 minutes are finite.

However, as it circulated through out the social media world and the news media, many people took up arms and went on the attack against this well intentioned thought. The idea that a mother would make her son a celebrity based on the fact that he has no friends is going to leave a mark on his soul that can never be erased. The fan page might be removed one day and his 15 minutes will be up at some point but those news stories will live on and the history of what she did and what was said will live on forever. And he’ll have to live with that.

GhostOfChristmasFutureScrooged400Those people refuse to ‘like’ his page. They have no problem though with blogging and writing about how terrible the mom is. They have no problem with predicting a very dark and grim future for Colin.

I have a few questions though. What sort of rosey, magical rainbow paradise are you picturing this kid is going to live in when he’s older if only this fan page didn’t exist? Do you honestly think the bullies will just go away as he gets older? Do you honestly think that he’ll just one day start making all kinds of friends for no real reason other than him being older?

Don’t get me wrong, yes I think people will find this page or it’s story in the future and yes, some will likely even laugh at him for it or maybe even use it against him in some way. But do you honestly think people that would do be so mean really even need it? Do you honestly think that a bully, wanting to hurt someone for no other reason than for the enjoyment it brings them to make someone suffer, would take the time to surf the web and drum up decades old info to use on someone?

Let me put it another way, if this mom hadn’t done this, do you honestly think that a bully would think to himself “well, I didn’t find anything about him on Facebook, I guess I just won’t bother him.”?

No, a bully is a bully and they’ll make something up if they don’t have the ammo they need. A person that would laugh at someone else because of something embarrassing his mother did to him as a kid is a person that is going to laugh at you for no good reason at all. A potential boss that decides on whether or not to hire you based on stuff from your childhood? Not worth working for. Anyone that would judge you because you had a rough childhood or worse, because you had a mom that did something so incredible for you even if it was embarrassing? Those people aren’t worth knowing.

You are not the ghost of Christmas future anymore than I am. However, there are a few things that I do know.

1. Parents embarrass us. It’s just the way it is. It’s like it’s their job. They hug and kiss their kids in public, they wear old outdated clothes, they don’t understand the latest slang or music and they go over the top to show their love sometimes. It’s what parents do. No, not usually to the tune of 2,000,000 Facebook fans but honestly, to a kid, does it feel less embarrassing when your mom shows people a picture of you in your underwear or naked in the tub?

2. Bullies don’t disappear just because your parents shelter you from them. This mom could stay out of this kid’s life completely but he’ll still have no friends. He will still get bullied. She could be the most perfect parent on the planet and do everything right and he’ll still have no friends. The bullies will still be there. During his birthday, as he gets older and later in life… whether she makes a Facebook fan page or not, the bullies will be there.

Listen, the phrase “it gets better” is true but it’s not because our parents hide us better or because the bullies or bad people go away, it’s because we grow up. We begin to understand that those bad people have no power over us and that it only ever felt like it did because we allowed them to have that power. It does get better but not because of anything anyone else does, it’s because we just won’t take it anymore. We get stronger.

Telling this mom that she did something terrible by doing this? That makes you the bully. Telling this kid that the bullying doesn’t stop and that he’ll have no friends in the future? That makes me the bully.

But whether his mom embarrasses him, or whether you rip into her for it or whether I tell him the future is still pretty sucky… none of that matters. It’s on Colin. Just like it was on you, me and everyone else. We need to be the ones that love our parents for embarrassing us like they did because of just how much they loved us. And we’re lucky to have that. We need to be the ones to stand up and say that those bullies are wrong and worthless and have no power over us. We need to be the ones to say that it’s going to get better because we say so. Not anyone else.

You can judge this mom all you want but don’t do it from your pedestal of mystical foresight as if your best guesses of what the future will bring are some cold hard facts when you know full well that you hate it when other people do that to you as they dissect your every parental decision. Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t be the person you hate when this stuff happens to you.

Finally, consider this.

What if your message hit home, not just with this mom but with every parent every where and collectively we all stopped doing every single “well intentioned” thing we could do for our children for fear of what a bully might say later in life.

What then?
Did you win?
Or did the bullies?

Comments { 3 }

Your brand of acceptance is hurting us

hurting_usIf you’ve ever lashed out at someone in anger, if you’ve ever expressed your opinion as if it were fact in opposition of someone else’s opinion, if you’ve ever labelled a complete stranger as something terrible when you couldn’t possibly know, if you’ve ever accused a stranger of something without possibly being able to know if it’s true or false, if you’ve ever attacked someone because they think differently than you… you are a part of the problem.

If you fight for acceptance for yourself, a loved one or on behalf of an entire community but you use hate, anger, bullying, accusations or any other form of verbal (or physical) attack as a method of gaining that acceptance… you are hurting us, not helping.

I have watched for years as the media tries to portray autistics as potential time bombs of aggressively violent energy. They try to pin autism on mass shootings or tell stories of padded cells in classrooms that are designed solely for autistic children. I hate seeing these stories but I do like the aftermath in which the entire community often joins together in an effort to show the media and the world just how wrong these portrayals are.

But then I visit a Facebook fan page, read a Twitter update or scroll through the comments on an autism blog and what I find is so discouraging. I see good people fighting a good fight but instead of sharing or expressing opinions, they’re lashing out. They’re hating each other. They’re… aggressively violent.

When I see a self advocate lash out repeatedly at parents or even other autistics, accusing them of being potential murderers or I see a parent telling all other parents that they must hate their children because they don’t word things in a certain way or I see a parent accusing another parent of supporting domestic violence because they don’t report their autistic child for having a meltdown… I see our collective efforts falling backwards. Not progress.

All this negativity, all this lashing out, the accusations, don’t you see where the media is getting it from? Don’t you see where the misconceptions are coming from? It’s not from something they make up. It’s not from fantasy. It’s from you.

How can I ever hope to prove to anyone that autistics are good people, because I’m a good person and my son is a good person and other autistics that I know are good people, when I see so many other autistics that are so full of hate everywhere they go? How can I ever prove that parents want a more peaceful, tolerant and accepting world for their children when I see so many other parents focusing so much of their time and energy on judging and hating other parents that they don’t even know?

If acceptance is what you want but all you ever seem to do is hate… you are hurting us. And by us, I mean you and me and everyone. You are a part of the problem. Like a car crash during a Formula One race, you are what the people will see and they’ll think that’s all there is. They’ll quickly forget all the good things done and all the great things said and they’ll report on your hate. And that’s how we will all be painted.

What I fear most is that you won’t even realize that you are the one that hurt us. You won’t even realize that you hate the media even more after and be even more hateful then before. And you won’t even realize that the hate you spread will only hurt us more from there.

Yes, it sounds crazy, but it’s what I see. It’s what my opinion is.

You might not like me for saying it but if you are trying to hurt someone else, then you are the problem. You are hurting us.

And honestly, if you don’t like that I’m saying this then perhaps you should ask yourself why that is. Perhaps it has more to do with you than it does me.

 

This is part 3 of what I want to say on bullying, hate and the autism community.
Parts 1 and 2 can be found here:
Hate me, for I am but a lowly autism parent!
Adults are bullied too. Don’t let it happen to you.

Comments { 8 }