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Jennifer Livingston: A victim of unfair cruelty

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By now most of the country has either read or heard about Jennifer Livingston, news anchor, WKBT, Wisconsin having been cruelly attacked in an email by Kenneth Krause, a personal injury lawyer.

Mr. Krause sent an email to Jennifer Livingston stating: “It's unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn't improved for many years. Surely you don't consider yourself a suitable example for this community's young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you'll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Jennifer Livingston used her voice to respond to Mr. Krause in an eloquent on-air response and video saying “The truth is: you could call me fat. And yes, even obese, on a doctor's chart. But to the person who wrote me that letter: Do you think I don't know that? That your cruel words are pointing out something that I don't see? You don't know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family and you have admitted that you don't watch the show. So you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside… And I am much more than a number on a scale. October is national anti-bullying month, and this is a problem that is growing every day in our schools and on the internet. It is a major issue in the lives of young people today. And as the mother of three young girls, it scares me to death. Now I am a grown woman, and luckily for me, I have a very thick skin — literally, as that email pointed out, and otherwise. That man's words mean nothing to me. But what really angers me about this is there are children who don't know better… The internet has become a weapon. Our schools have become a battleground. And this behavior is learned. It is passed down from people like the man who wrote me that email. If you are at home, and you are talking about the fat newslady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat. We need to teach our kids how to be kind, not critical, and we need to do that by example.”

Kudos to Jennifer Livingston for responding the way she did. We need more role models like her.

One has to wonder why Mr. Krause sent her the email in the first place. It appears he’s a bigot against overweight people. However to target a public figure he didn’t even know seemed rather alarming.

Apparently Mr. Krause doesn’t understand that people come in all shapes and sizes, they are different colors and have different sexual orientation – many being suitable examples for his community’s young girls and other kids and teens. Does Mr. Krause consider himself a suitable example for students in his community now that so many youths have could easily mimic his behavior through the news? Kids learn cruel behavior from adults and other kids.

On Friday, October 4th the media caught up with Kevin Krause who gave what seemed like a half-baked apology for hurting Jennifer Livingston. He told the media if he hurt her feelings he is sorry.

If he didn’t understand that he hurt her feelings, will he still be critical of overweight people or was his apology sincere?

In response to Kenneth Krause's television interview Thursday night, Jennifer – a true lady in every sense of the word -- offered the following statement: "I saw the interview today during which Kenneth Krause apologized. I’m thrilled he’s come to realize words have power and we all need to be careful how we use them. Apology accepted and sincerely appreciated. This has clearly sparked an important conversation about bullying that needs to continue. I hope this situation has inspired people to find their voice. Let’s all work together to keep the discussion kind, civil and supportive of others."

At STOMP Out Bullying™ we teach students that if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone – don’t say anything at all. We educate students about “honoring our differences and respecting and celebrating our similarities.” No Matter™ what our difference are … we are all the same – we are ALL people.

Here’s hoping that Mr. Krause has learned a valuable lesson and if he does have children – he’s teaching them that there is nothing wrong with being different and that calling attention to someone’s difference is completely unjust.

To learn more about bullying visit www.stompoutbullying.org

Learn the signs of bullying

Understand why kids bully

What parents can do about bullying

What kids can do if they are being bullied

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Ross Ellis is also the Examiner for:

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