Curt Schilling Throwing Some Heat at Cyberbullies

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Note to Bullies: This guy is very good at striking people out, so think twice before you are cruel!

You may be aware of the recent controversy that arose when Curt Schilling, former Red Sox champion and three-time World Series winner, tweeted about how proud he is of his 17-year-old daughter Gabby, who is going to college next year at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island to pitch for its Seahawks softball team.

Deplorably, the famous pitcher’s kudos for his child was greeted with some horrid tweets from people that were graphic, cruel, and downright abusive. Schilling posted some of the disgraceful tweets that even broke the law—attacks against his daughter, who is still a minor.

schilling tweets

A devoted dad, Schilling was not willing to walk away from what had transpired. Taking action to hold people accountable, he researched and EXPOSED the cowards hiding behind their Twitter handles in cyberspace. Once revealed, everyday heroes turned over the identified thugs—and good for them!

One digital assailant, for example, was from a community college in New Jersey, and another man was a part-time ticket salesperson for Red Sox rival the New York Yankees. Some of the tasteless tweets even came from students at Salve Regina University.

Speaking to their actions, Schilling said in an interview,

This is not Twitter’s fault or the Internet. That’s like blaming Ford for someone being run over. This is people. None of these people want to be connected to anything they said. There’s a reason for that. Now the goal is, if you’re a young lady and being harassed, first of all it’s against the law. As a young lady and a human, no one, anywhere, ever, is allowed to talk to you that way. Under any circumstances. If you’re a man and you do this, you’re not (a man). Being a man is about having integrity. This isn’t a mistake. This is a malicious attempt to be evil, and if you talk like this you’re a piece of garbage.”

So what were the outcomes with the people who tweeted the explicit and violent things about Schilling’s 17-year-old (read: minor) daughter? It’s a hard-hitting lesson. Of the aforementioned perpetrators, some were suspended from school, some were kicked out, and one was released from his employment with the Yankees. And all must regret that the offense will be inked on their records.

As explained in a recent column that I penned for the Star-Ledger, digital footprints can leave scars forever, so we must post and tweet wisely. I suspect the men who typed these nasty things are regretting clicking “Tweet”, because Schilling has clearly thrown right back at them a curveball with some heat.

Parents, share this cautionary tale with your older kids. Many of us learn best with examples of what not to do and why. They might mistakenly think that they’re anonymous online, but this case study proves that they can still be held accountable for their actions—think before pressing send.

Hopefully we can draw inspiration from the Shillings’ experience, as cyberbullying is spreading its tentacles. I recently learned from my teacher friend, who is a mom of teens, about a website called “Smack High”. Apparently there are “Smack” sites for various states. You can gather—thanks to the appropriately reflective title—that these websites glorify “talking smack” and saying unkind things to each other about athletics and other school topics. I went onto one of the “Smack” sites and was as disappointed as I expected to be…NOTHING positive or productive at all.

So, a couple questions come to mind: Why are people promoting this negative energy, and how can we fight love back with kindness and encouragement?

Reminds me of the Coke commercial: Let’s all flip things around to the positive.

Well, Mr. Schilling, I hope your lovely daughter Gabby has a strong career like you have achieved and absolutely loves Salve. As an alumna, I can say that I sure did. I noted that you were a good guy for all you have done to raise awareness around amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) sufferers, and of course, thought you were super tough when you pitched a win with a severely and visibly injured ankle during the 2004 American League Series against the Yankees …but, now, I really think you are a superhero—you WEAR THE CAPE!

Choose kind,
Leigh Ann

Showing over Preaching: Teach Your Kids by Example

In today’s guest blog, Cape Kid and kidkind foundation Hero Award Winner Frank Piacenti reflects on the way his parents raised him, identifying what most powerfully shaped who he is today. We are thrilled to share this wise young man’s perspective on parenting – it’s sure to make you stop and think.


It’s hardGuest blog icon being a kid today. Without much experience in the world, it’s easy to feel lost or overwhelmed with all the stress put on a child’s plate. Between the spheres of academics, home, extracurricular activities and social life, kids can often lose sight of what is really important. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to some negative side effects: bullying, unkindness, or even just the simple inability to discern right and wrong. What’s worse, these issues have only been magnified by social media, a growing outlet for our children to virtually interact with each other in today’s evolving world. Now, I’m not a parent quite yet, but I can imagine that most must stop and think once in a while, “Am I doing a good job parenting my child? Have I raised them to understand how to handle and deal with these problems?” This question is probably as daunting and stressful for parents as it seems.

To be clear, I do not think that children who may struggle with these problems are bad kids, nor do I think their parents have raised them incorrectly. Through my experience with my own parents, I’ve come to realize that parenting is much more of a give and take. If parents do what is right themselves and love their child as best as they can, then most often their child will never need to worry about such issues in their lives.

I grew up in a loving household. My parents were strict on grades and required that we were home for dinner most school nights. They would never hesitate to read a book or watch a movie with my sister or me when we were younger. Sure, they maintained order (I wasn’t even allowed to walk to a friend’s house down the street until I was 11), but I never held it against them; I always knew they just wanted what was best for me. They were strict but fair, teasing but loving. Most of all, they led by example; they did what was right, no matter what the cost. It wasn’t always perfect; nobody’s childhood is. We had some disagreements along the way, and sometimes I strayed from what they taught me. After a while, though, I would always find the path again, often with a little push from my mom or dad. A couple years and two more siblings later, I’m out of the house and on my own adventure now, always looking back to the basics they taught me. Ironically enough, I’m not sure they realized just how much I was learning from them. The interaction was enough; I followed their examples and continue to today.

My advice to parents, from the humble mouth of a childless college freshman, is this: Do what you think is right. Show your kids you will do what is right, no matter the cost. In the long run, setting that example will be the most effective tactic in encouraging your child to do the same. Remember the process is a give and take. A parent can’t just say how important it is to be kind and then yell at co-workers on the phone. Children learn much more from example than from preaching — they’re excellent imitators. My 8-year-old sister, who loves to rant about politics (just like my dad), is my favorite example of that. She’s learning just as I did, and all other children do. I can imagine she’ll succumb to some of the traps the world offers along the way, but I’m sure if she follows the example of my parents as I did, she’ll learn to overcome those obstacles by always and unquestioningly doing what is right.

Frank Piacenti
Cape Kid and Winner of kidkind foundation Hero Award
Frank Piacenti

Star-Ledger Publishes Guest Article by Leigh Ann about “Online Survival Skills” for Young People

The New Jersey Star-Ledger this week published a guest article by Leigh Ann Errico, founder of Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation. Her piece outlines the new challenges young people face growing up and pursuing their dreams in an everything-online world. Read it on the Star-Ledger‘s website here or below!

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Digital footprints can leave permanent scars for young people: Opinion

pic for star-ledger column

In this file photo, parents listen to a seminar conducted by Connecticut State Police Sgt. Jim Smith of the state police cyber crimes unit in Windsor Locks, Conn. Teenagers’ increasingly common habit of distributing nude self-portraits electronically — often called “sexting” if it’s done by cell phone — has parents and school administrators worried. And some prosecutors have begun charging teens who send and receive such images with child pornography and other serious felonies. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, file)

By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist

on January 09, 2015 at 12:00 PM, updated January 09, 2015 at 12:04 PM

By Leigh Ann Errico

A cautionary tale that resembles a nightmare—that’s what the 2014 Sayreville War Memorial High School football team will pass down through generations. For alleged hazing, bullying and sexual assault, the team was forced to forfeit its football season. One student linked to the investigation even lost his scholarship offer from Penn State’s football program. He, no doubt, would take it all back, if he could.

The new year offers a blank slate, but thanks to our frenemy the Internet, some choices of years past are recorded and can bring consequences, again and again. It used to be that if someone had a lapse of judgment growing up, more often than not they could sweep the mistake under the rug and, with time, it would slowly fade away. What young people do today, however, can come back and haunt them. According to a sheriff’s office spokeswoman cited in the New York Times, releasing a minor’s name is the department’s standard practice for a juvenile “charged with a felony or three or more misdemeanors.” Once released, a quick Google search could bring up the name on dozens of sites many years later.

Teens, tweens and ages sandwiching them on each end also often fail to consider that what they type, snap or film and post, send or share could greatly impact their lives. Sex video scandals, for example, are rocking schools across the country. Showing off to the kid in math class or teammates in the locker room, minors are using their cell phones to record sexual acts, usually without both participants’ knowledge. Not only is this beyond-bad judgment inviting charges of unlawful filming, but adolescents themselves are facing child pornography charges. And, most tragic, young victims of this foul crime are being pushed into suicidal mires. As uncomfortable as it may be, share stories like these with teens as a warning. Making the wheels turn in those brains that lack fully-developed frontal lobes just might prevent tragedy.

As a human resources professional, I so often encounter people who think they have a job offer in the bag, but are soon wildly disappointed. These days, a formal background check is just the beginning. For employers, due diligence includes checking social media accounts and doing Google searches on candidates before formal offers are extended.

Because the Internet has been around to record the mistakes of their youth in permanent, digital marker, presenting a clean slate will be even more difficult for millennials and their successors — just ask the team captains of the Sayreville football team in 10 years.

As kids head back to school for second semester, help them prepare for the new jungle out there. Here’s what they need to understand from a young age:

Every day, you choose how to live your life—not only how you conduct yourself as a human being, but also how you treat other people (choose kind). Think of yourself as a brand. You build value in your brand with upstanding behavior. Living a life of good character will pay off in endless ways.

Anything you or others post of you online will be in the public domain and will likely be out there for all to see forever. Think before you press send.

Beware of being filmed unknowingly. Even if you think you are in a setting that is private, don’t assume and be cautious.

There are consequences and penalties for demonstrating questionable character as you age and strive to reach your goals. Don’t let a lapse in judgment get in the way of your hopes and dreams.

Select your friends carefully. If it feels wrong in your gut, it probably is. Channel that good sense of direction and avoid following others down the wrong path. Remember:
Your digital footsteps, in particular, are tracked nearly everywhere you go.

All being said, tell young people that if something should happen to them that is humiliating, there are options for ushering in tomorrow, a new day. With the help of parents, friends and counselors, there is always a path toward healing.

In the past, learning by trial and error was “the hard way,” but today it’s even harder as rumors and incriminating photos spread like wildfire throughout peer groups over the Internet. It is our job to teach the younger generation online survival skills now to minimize the obstacles they encounter as they grow up and pursue their dreams.

Leigh Ann Errico is a certified Leadership Coach and the founder and CEO of Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation (www.wearthecapekids.com).

Leigh Ann Pens Guest Article on Bullying for Parent Palace, Megahub for Moms

Parent Palace – a royally awesome site with fun recipes, craft ideas, product reviews and tips read by nearly 300K moms – published a guest article on bullying by Wear the Cape & kidkind foundation Founder Leigh Ann Errico. Check it out…and then poke around the Palace!

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Ending the B-word Needs All Hands on Deck

be kind hands“Bullying” – these days, we see the word everywhere that we look. From school newsletters to local newscasts, bad behavior is making headlines. But bullying isn’t just a buzzword; it has become a pervasive problem. And with holiday break in the rearview mirror, the struggle will be renewed for many of our kids.

Social media has enabled the monster that is bullying to keep sprouting new heads called Kik, Ask.FM and Snapchat. Once upon a time, kids could go home from school and escape the harassment, but now it’s often even worse afterhours. As obvious as it is that a swarm of jerks has even more capacity to descend upon America, it’s less clear how to stop the plague.

heroes helpLast year, I founded Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation after I came up short in my search for resources on how to raise my four kids to do the right thing and to choose kindness over the power play. Since then, we’ve partnered with Philip Brown, PhD, a senior consultant at the National School Climate Center, who is now Wear the Cape’s resident character education expert. Recently Dr. Brown helped Wear the Cape expose five realities about bullying that are often overlooked and showed us what to do in light of the facts. Here’s a condensed version of “5 Ideas to Help Bring Bullying to an End” from Dr. Brown.

  1. Bullying always involves more people than the bully and the victim.

In most bullying incidents, studies show that four or more additional peers are present[1].

What to do? Kids need opportunities (e.g., a service project) to be positive role models of good character, exemplifying the values that connect people rather than divide them.

  1. Adults should prevent bullying behaviors, not model them.

The authority and power adults have and need to guide and protect can also be used destructively. Putting kids down or mocking their failings is bullying behavior that kids pick up on as okay and will learn to use on other kids themselves.

What to do? Correct the behavior, not the whole child.

  1. Bullying and conflict are not the same thing.

When people have strong disagreements, aggressive behavior and responses result that may appear similar to bullying. But in situations of conflict, both parties have a degree of power, and there is a dispute over resources or decisions; there is no intention to victimize a person based on some characteristic such as their ethnicity or physical attributes. For bullies, the reward is largely social – increased status, power, attention or revenge.

What to do? Don’t assume that every conflict requires identifying a bully and a victim. Ensure kids are taught basic conflict resolution skills.

  1. To break bullying cycles or patterns, learn to talk compassionately.

An intentional conversation designed to break a bullying behavior is often needed to help the children involved understand the impact of their actions.

What to do? In talking about being mean, an adult can engage and reinforce the natural sense of empathy with which we are all born, but we all have to learn about and practice by being compassionate with different people in different contexts.

  1. Give youth a voice and exercise your own voice, too.

Harassment, intimidation and bullying behaviors among children and youth are a peer phenomenon, so kids are usually reluctant to talk with adults about it.

girls trioWhat to do? Ask your kids how things are going at school, and stay tuned for signs of trouble with peers. Let them know directly and indirectly that they are not alone and that you are available to help them.

Armed with knowledge, we can fight against the harassment, intimidation and bullying that hurt our kids. Why don’t we promote that it’s cool to be kind? Let’s stop tolerating the b-word and start solving the problem.

What are your thoughts on this?  How have you dealt with this in your family?  Share your opinions below!

Leigh Ann Errico is a leadership coach and the founder of Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation.

[1] O’Connell, Pepler & Craig. Peer involvement in bullying: Insights and challenges for intervention. Journal of Adolescence. 1999 (22), p. 437-452.

Letter from Leigh Ann: Gratitude from the kidkind foundation

Washington Irving once said,

“The holidays are the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall and the genial flame of charity in the heart.“

How fitting to evoke warmth and passion by relating hospitality and charity to fire! A year-round flame drives us at kidkind to help young people understand the immeasurable value of good character and kindness. To all the big-hearted people who have embraced our cause, supporting us over the past year: We are so grateful.

The kidkind foundation worked very hard this year, and we are so proud of the tracks that we made! In 2014, we utilized multiple channels to reach families with life-enriching educational materials, experiences and inspiration:

  • Cape Code Project and Dr. Brown: Wear the Cape & the kidkind foundation enlisted character education expert Philip Brown, PhD to develop resources that were provided to parents, educators and mentors for free to teach children virtues and show them how to handle challenges like bullying. As part of this effort, Dr. Brown authored the Cape Code Project, a three-part series that offers guidance on creating a family code of conduct to raise Cape Kids who make good choices and choose kindness as their way to interact with the world. Helping countless families, the invaluable information from Dr. Brown was distributed far and wide via blogs, press releases and the media.
  • 5K Race for Kidkind: In May, we held our first 5K Fundraiser, complete with a Kids’ 100-Yard Dash and Family Festival. Well over 100+ runners participated, and 50 everyday heroes came out to volunteer. Thanks to our sponsors and participants, we raised over $10,000 to support kidkind’s mission.

5K runners of all sizes

  • Hero Scholarship: The kidkind foundation created a scholarship for college-bound seniors who exemplify what it means to be an everyday hero by restoring kindness and civility in society. Frank Piacenti of West Morris Mendham High School was the first winner of a $2,500 scholarship!

Leigh Ann and Frank

  • Cape Kids: Throughout the year, the kidkind foundation recognized many Cape Kids. To create positive role models and deliver inspiration for new acts of kindness from others, we shared their amazing stories on our website.

cape kids on couch

  • Verizon FiOS1 News: “Push Pause”, a television program from Verizon FiOS1 News, featured Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation with a special focus on our Junior Board. In addition to profiling Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation, the news outlet broadcasted a discussion among Wear the Cape’s young leaders about the challenges and the opportunities surrounding bullying. We hope viewers gained as much insight from tuning in as we did! [WATCH]
  • Holiday Fundraiser: We held a charitable event to show our youth the importance of philanthropy and to give back to the community. The fundraiser brought $7,000 for kidkind to continue its mission in 2015! In addition, thousands of dollars in supplies were collected for our troops and hundreds of Lego and Frozen toys were gathered to be donated to orphans at the NJ Children’s Shelter in Trenton, NJ.

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I’d like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation for the many friends and businesses who are helping Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation continue its momentum behind promoting kindness and good character in children. Thank you so much for the generosity of your time and your donations. Seeing others join the movement and lend their support to this important cause is nothing short of beautiful.

COMING IN 2015 after much demand: a school assembly!

All the best to you and yours in kindness,
Leigh Ann