When I began my research for this blog, I was overwhelmed by the many social media outlets that exist to help people who are struggling with bullying. Bullying has always existed; from the playground, to the classroom, to the workplace, to the inside of homes. Social media has given a new face to bullying, but there are also many ways in which social media is reaching out and trying to help those who feel lost and alone. Social media faces a large amount of blame when it comes to bullying, but it is important to see the other side.
When I was in elementary and high school, I didn’t know bullying like the youth of today. I know it existed, but I think the way in which it was handled was much different. In my opinion, when I was in elementary school, twenty years ago, these instances were dealt with quietly and quickly. Bullying was often swept under the rug, in hopes that it would just go away. Nowadays, people talk about bullying openly and honestly. Social media isn’t allowing for bullying and mental health issues to go unnoticed, and as a parent I am grateful.
October is bullying prevention month. Merilee Allred wanted to start a campaign to help encourage youth. She came up with an idea called the Awkward Years Project. She is asking people to post a before (from the dreaded awkward stage) and an after (a recent) picture online. Allred wants to,
“Raise awareness with it, and maybe, hopefully help kids…to let them know that life does get better.”
She is hoping kids who are being bullied will be able to see these posts and realize this is just a small moment in their life. They have an entire future ahead of them, filled with possibility.
A non-profit movement, To Write Love on Her Arms (twloha), offers hope and help to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. For many, asking for help is the hardest step. No matter what the struggle, twloha offers anonymity and makes the first step a little easier to make.
“All of us get stuck in moments. You need to know you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.”
They emphasize that “people need other people.” Twloha offers a branch, and even if just one person reaches for it, they have already made a difference.
I then discovered this amazing non-profit anti bullying campaign, Be More Heroic. They are using social media to fight bullying. They have teamed up with Dubbler, a social media site. Dubbler is a free app which allows users to record 60 seconds of customized audio called “dubs.” Be More Heroic aims to create a platform for youth which is safe and allows them the opportunity to share their stories, or reach out for help; all while staying anonymous. They can be found using the #BeMoreHeroic, #PassitOn, and #SayNotoBullying hashtags. Their goal: to create action among youth and communities…
“We Invite individuals to redefine heroism by sharing actions that show great determination in advocating against bullying and social change.”
Be More Heroic debuted less than five months ago, and Dubbler already has more than 500, 000 users.
I encourage you to take a look at their website, http://www.bemoreheroic.com. I love what they are doing for schools, parents, youth, and educators. By traveling to schools from elementary to university level, they are helping communities become more educated and encouraging action to help end bullying.
I am encouraged by the many ways people are using social media to better lives and transform the world for future generations. Social media has the ability to make positive changes, and these stories help illustrate change is possible.
I wish I could say that my daughter will never know the word bullying, but that is unrealistic. Instead, I will hope social media continues to inspire people to create platforms which will educate and inform so we are better equipped to empower those who feel powerless.
 “Embracing Your #AkwardYears with @merileeloo.” Retrieved from http://blog.instagram.com/post/63085315603/awkwardyears. October 10, 2013.