I will Be a #ForceAgainstCyberbullying

 
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Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online.

70% of students report seeing bullying online

68% of teens agree that cyberbullying is a serious problem

81% of young people think that bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.

(dosomething.org)

In an effort to help raise awareness and share goodness I've decided to become a #ForceForGood and I want to focus on...

#ForceAgainstCyberBullying

This came to my attention when Erin Lefler, a skilled illustrator I follow on instagram, shared her passion for standing up to cyberbullies. She has become a target of cyberbullying with her rise in followers and as she has shared her illustrations. 

I wanted to paraphrase her feelings, but she expresses her concerns much better than I can:

"If you put your heart and soul into your work only to have it bashed to bits by internet trolls, how do you think you'd feel? Not so great, huh?... Would you do this to a person face to face? Probably not. So if you wouldn't want it done to you, and you wouldn't do it in person, why do it hiding behind a screen?"

"If you don't like what I'm posting, if you don't like the art I'm making, or even if you don't like the way I look, there's a simple solution: ...Just keep scrolling...And if you don't have something kind to say, keep it to yourself."

"For those saying I'm too kind, and that I need to stop being so naive, I'd like to also so I think you're wrong. There's no such thing as being too kind. And I think every person is capable of showing more kindness." (@butternut_gouache

In this fight against cyberbullying Erin created a campaign on social media and an official logo using the hashtag #ForceAgainstCyberBullying. In addition, she has designed shirts and other merchandise that you can buy in support of her campaign. 

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Let's Talk

The Basics: What is Bullying?

According to StopBullying.gov "Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems."

What is cyberbullying?

"Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior." (StopBullying.gov)

My Experience

In high school I had several experiences that led to bullying in person because of my faith and love for Disney. I had one classmate that regularly bullied me about my appearance. I wore lots of Disney shirts, and often puff painted or doodled on my backpack with sharpies. He always had something to say about it. And I dreaded that class because of him.

On one occasion I was wearing a red shirt with the Incredibles Logo on it and he said, "Hey your shirt is incredible..." I began to smile, and then that smile was cut short as he proceeded to finish by saying, "Incredibly LAME!" He laughed and a few other classmate chuckled as well. I was crushed, and felt stupid for being part of a joke.

Now I know this is a really simple and almost silly example, but the experience was extremely hurtful. I loved Disney and the Incredibles (and still do!) and there was no reason for him to say something like that. It was all just to get a response from his goons and make himself feel better by putting me down. 

I do realize that I may have been extra sensitive as a teen as well, but that should never be a justification for bullying! And the fact that I dreaded that class because of him is a major sign of bullying and I should've been brave and reported it, but I didn't.

Luckily I have a wise mother, and she always made me feel welcome to express my love for Disney and other artsy things. I was able to talk about it with her. And I have a sister who could care less about what others think and is a great advocate for her family. I tried to mimic her care-free personality when it came to bullying, but I wasn't very good at it. 

How to Prevent + Handle Cyberbullying

I would hate for other to feel hurt and harassed by continued bullying-cyber or in person. No one deserves it. 

I believe that everyone has divine worth and should never feel worthless because of bullies. So let's put an end to this. Here is what you can do when you encounter cyberbullying:
(This information comes from a list on cyberbullying.org)

  1. TALK - Tell someone if you are a target of cyberbullying. A BFF, instructor, trusted leader, etc. Never keep it to yourself. It's not fun, and it can be hard to talk about, but give others a chance to help make the problem go away.

  2. IGNORE THEM - Don't respond to them. Internet Trolls and Cyberbullies are looking for a response. Don't give it to them!

  3. TELL THEM TO STOP - If ignoring doesn't work, tell them to stop. Let them know that what they're doing is hurtful. Be respectful and non-aggressive.

  4. LAUGH - Sometimes you might be able to turn the situation around and laugh about it. Maybe they are trying to be funny, but it's just coming off the wrong way. But don't let that go to far. If it truly is hurtful, let them know or talk about it.

  5. BLOCK - With most social media platforms and mobile phones you can block certain users or phone numbers from being able to message you or "see" you online.

  6. REPORT - If you don't know who the cyberbully is you can contact the content provider. Harassment is a violation of terms of service of all reputable websites.

  7. DON'T PASS IT ALONG - Don't be apart of the problem or gossip. If you receive a harmful message about someone else, delete and don't repeat it and encourage friend to do the same.

For any additional information regarding Cyberbullying check out these websites/articles:

StopBullying.gov
Cyberbulling.org
Kidshealth.org
DoSomthing.org
Pacer.org


If you are interested in sharing your support in this campaign with Erin Lefler feel free to download (see below) and share the images on social media and your feelings about cyberbullying:

We encourage you to tag celebrities, or prominent social media figures to help raise additional awareness in hopes that they might join the #ForceAgainstCyberbullying

Don't forget Tag /give credit for the artwork:
#ForceAgainstCyberbullying
#ForceForGood

Nichole Mace
Instagram: @by.nicholemarie
Twitter: @bynicholemarie

Erin Lefler:
Instagram: @butternut_gouache
Twitter: @butternutgouache


When have you been a #ForceAgainstCyberbullying, and how did you confront it? Share your positive experiences in the comments below.