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October 6, 2011

An Epidemic of Bullying


Ryan Halligan

One of the first places a child may encounter conflict is being the victim of bullying by his or her peers in school. Bullying Statistics, an organization which tracks data on bullying, reports some sobering facts in its 2010 survey:

  • Over half, about 56 percent, of all students have witnessed a bullying crime while at school.
  • 15 percent of all students who don’t show up for school report it as being out of fear of being bullied while at school.
  • 71 percent of students report bullying as an on-going problem.
  • One out of every 10 students drops out or changes schools because of repeated bullying.
  • One out of every 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
  • Some of the top years for bullying include 4th through 8th graders in which 90 percent were reported as victims of some kind of bullying.
  • Other recent bullying statistics reveal that 54 percent of students reported that witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school.
  • Among students of all ages, homicide perpetrators were found to be twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullied previously by their peers.
  • Each year, 282,000 students are reportedly attacked in high schools throughout the nation.

The Internet has fostered a new and sometimes deadly form of bullying – cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can occur when a child is the victim of harmful or embarrassing messages posted online or sent via text.   Consider the story of Ryan Halligan as told by his father in the video below.

Teen Bullying Prevention – A Cyber Bullying Suicide Story

Many  efforts, both official and grassroots, are underway to help prevent bullying through educating teachers, school administrators, parents and especially kids themselves.  Some examples include:

  • The Bully Project, a documentary recently featured at the Tribeca Film Festival
  • It Gets Better, a comprehensive project featuring a series of YouTube videos and other information to help LGBT kids combat bullying
  • Webisodes created by StopBullying.gov to help younger children understand bullying

There are many actions we can take to stop bullying.  But, as Ryan Halligan’s father observed, the first thing we can all do is stop being bystanders in this epidemic.

Join our family of donors.  Help the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation create educational programs that a new generation of young people can use to end bullying and make their world a better place.[paypal-donation]
October 6, 2011

Transformational Leaders in a World at Peace

Nothing else in the world…not all the armies…is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.
-Victor Hugo


His Holiness, The Dalai Lama

To be a leader—to have leadership qualities—is a characteristic that people can generally recognize when they see it. When you think of a leader, what is the first quality that comes to mind…that she/he is powerful? Inspirational? A visionary for change? Courageous? Intelligent? Authentic? Has integrity? Competent? Lives by high moral standards? Ethical? Tolerant? Compassionate? The transformational leaders in the 21st Century will be focused on global peace, and to attain that golden goal, leaders will not be interested in having power over others. Instead, leaders will seek to inspire the cultures of the globe by practicing Ethical Leadership, making tolerance and respect among all societies the top priority. These leaders will help people learn to find the power within themselves so they will no longer fear their neighbors and instead build bridges of cooperation and trust. When a total commitment is made to tolerance and respect within each culture as well as among all societies, world peace will at last be achieved. The transformational leaders who emerge, whether within one of the hundreds of cultures around the world, or upon the world stage, will model the ethics, or standards, shared by all humankind–the first being to live in peace made possible through tolerance and respect for others. Great leaders will Walk the Walk.

The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation believes that among young people around the world today, there are many men and women for whom the vision of world peace is unquestioned as the only path forward. Dr. Tutu has said that “The young people of today are the best hope we have for transforming cultures of war and violence into cultures of peace and prosperity. By providing people, ages 15-25, with interactive and stimulating opportunities to learn about and embrace moral and ethical practices, they are more likely to engage in and foster the principles of non-violence, equality, compassion and integrity in their societies.” These leaders will reflect a kind of spiritual pragmatism where many spiritual concepts come together with the shared values of compassion, tolerance, respect, and love for all living things—and the belief in and support for global Peace. Together we can create a world that, while gloriously diverse, maintains a standard of living for all where no person will want for food, shelter, education, and dreams of a future that will be realized.

The new leaders coming of age now have among their role models Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, and His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, three of the most influential peacemakers the world has ever known. The great legacy of these extraordinary people will be the Ethical Leadership of each, which results in the end of war and violence, and transforms life on Earth as humanity reaches the Golden Goal of Global Peace.

October 6, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

“Pura Vida” are familiar words in a thriving democracy enjoying sustainable peace in our world today. The literal translation in Spanish is Pura (Pure) and Vida (Life), but to Costa Ricans it means a bigger idea—to enjoy life fully and happily.

monkeys-in-costa-ricaSince 1948—well over 60 years ago—when the standing army of Costa Rica was abolished, this small South American country has developed a democracy that embraces a very diverse population with a 95% literacy rate, life expectancy of 77.6 years, comprehensive health care, and a very strong environmental focus. In 2010, the first woman, Laura Chinchilla, was elected President, along with her running mate, Luis Liberman Ginsburg, the first Jewish Vice President. Together they come from two of the many strong ethnic roots in Costa Rica. Among the expectations of their administration is the continuing stewardship of an environmentally progressive government focused on the active involvement of all citizens through education and the creation of business models linked to environmental initiatives.


Alvaro Ugalde

Costa Rica is a democracy with a very involved population. Adult citizens teach the younger generation to be active in areas that support the diversity of national interests benefiting all. The efforts to inspire each new generation to value personal improvement by taking advantage of the great opportunities for learning that lead to actively participating in a peaceful, prosperous future, is exemplified by the amazing National Park and Protected Land System. One of the world’s foremost environmental leaders is Costa Rican—Alvaro Ugalde. At just 22 years-old, Ugalde realized the terrible toll deforestation was taking in his homeland. He determined then to find a way to stop that destruction and protect as much as he could of the glory that is Costa Rica’s natural beauty and invaluable sanctuaries for many endangered species. He set out to educate the government, corporations, and foundations about both the ethical responsibility to the protect the environment and the dangerous consequences to all of civilization of failing to protect precious natural resources.

waterfall-in-costa-ricaThe result of Alvaro Ugalde’s decades of dedication is that today fully one-quarter of Costa Rica is officially protected in National Parks, wetlands, endangered species sanctuaries, and other eco-sensitive areas. Five percent of the biodiversity in the entire world is protected within 26% of Costa Rica. These efforts have also boosted the economy by spawning a new kind of tourism—sustainable tourism—appealing to people from Costa Rica itself and around the world who want to experience an environmentally sensitive adventure. Sustainable tourism now brings in more revenue than bananas and coffee together! The strength of the National Park System comes largely from the people in communities throughout Costa Rica. They participate regularly in numerous activities to deepen their knowledge through education that extends from understanding delicate eco-systems that ensure pure drinking water to gender issues.

children-costa-ricaThe message that runs through all of these efforts is that the children are the future, and parents, guardians, schools, and government must enrich education in all matters that impact the freedom and peace enjoyed by the people of Costa Rica.

We can look to Costa Rica as an example of sustainable peace in our time. There are surely lessons we can learn from this small but long-lasting democracy as we strive to develop cultures of peace, where one day all people will live “Pura vida.”