{published here with permission}

Dear Sisters, Brothers, and Supporters of our Masonic Youth Groups:

Today we are writing to you in regards to a tragic issue facing many youth in our society, bullying.

For many of us, we know bullying when we see it. There are legal definitions that you can look at via New York State[1], or the Center for Disease Control.[2] Simply put, bullying is the creation of a hostile environment that impacts a person’s physical or emotional wellbeing. It can be name calling, it can be rumor spreading, it can be created even by not mentioning the person by name. When it happens through electronic means like texting, email, or social media it becomes “cyberbullying.”

With how encompassing the definition of bullying is, it is important to remember that some things are not bullying. These include:

– Not liking someone. While we would hope that everyone likes everyone, not liking someone is not bullying.

– A single instance of a joke: Sometimes jokes fall flat, one case of telling a joke about someone is not itself bullying.

– Disagreements and arguments: Reasonable people can disagree without being disagreeable. Not agreeing with someone is not bullying.

– Physical contact in a sporting event: Tempers get heated during a sporting event and one person fouls another. This happens in sporting events. This is not bullying.

If you have specific concerns about what is or what is not bullying please speak with one of us.

The effects of bullying are dramatic. Scientific research has shown that when youth are victims of bullying their likelihood to engage in harmful behavior increases exponentially.[3] Particularly problematic is the impact of cyberbullying.[4] Bullying, in all of its forms, is a clear and present danger to the health and safety of the young people who we so proudly serve. As adult volunteers, we have a critically important role to play in creating a safe and positive environment for all of our youth.

The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of the State of New York, Most Worshipful Richard J. Kessler, has spoken numerous times about appropriate behavior on social media. In the Summer 2022 issues of “The Empire State Mason” M:.W:. Kessler shared a number of important guidelines, including:

“• Never engage in communication that could reasonably be viewed as intimidating, malicious, threatening or obscene.

• Use good judgment when posting, or commenting online. Be respectful of the cultures, beliefs and opinions of others.”

We recognize that our members, advisors, alumni, and all volunteers interacting across our Masonic organizations may engage in social media communication both while representing our organizations and personally. We urge all to be mindful that any comments posted may have an adverse impact on all of our organization’s ability to carry out our shared mission of creating a better world by empowering young people to be leaders in their communities, to live lives of high morals with timeless values, while ensuring a caring and supportive environment. We urge all to consider the future of our organizations when publicly posting and refrain from sharing anything that may be construed as negative or distasteful. Remember when posting to first look internally, and consider whether your comments or posts are kind, inspiring, helpful, or necessary.

Our three New York Masonic Youth Organizations are unified and committed to future collaboration to ensure that together we are addressing bullying in all forms and providing safe and supportive environments for all who interact with us. We ask that you join us in our efforts.


Sister Gale Gould, Supreme Inspector, The International Order of The Rainbow for Girls
Sister Kristina Turri, State Director, Organization of Triangles, Inc.
Sister Kristina Groff, Deputy State Director, Organization of Triangles, Inc.
RW Peter Brusoe, Executive Officer for New York State, DeMolay International

[1] https://codes.findlaw.com/ny/education-law/edn-sect-11/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/bullyingresearch/fastfact.html

[3] Arnon S, Brunstein Klomek A, Visoki E, Moore TM, Argabright ST, DiDomenico GE, Benton TD, Barzilay R. Association of Cyberbullying Experiences and Perpetration With Suicidality in Early Adolescence. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Jun 1;5(6):e2218746. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.18746. PMID: 35759263; PMCID: PMC9237787.

[4] Maurya, C., Muhammad, T., Dhillon, P. et al. The effects of cyberbullying victimization on depression and suicidal ideation among adolescents and young adults: a three year cohort study from India. BMC Psychiatry 22, 599 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-022-04238-x