January 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm
Guest blogger Shawn Edgington on the NO BULL Challenge.
“Mom, I can’t go back to school, they want to kill me!” These are the words every parent fears, and hopes never to hear. As the mother of a teenage girl who received death threats by text and on her Facebook page, I know first-hand how difficult it is when cyberbullies target your child. I also know how critical it is for parents and educators to take the right steps before a cyberbullying situation goes viral.
It’s difficult to know when to act, because more than 80% of the time, adults don’t really know what’s happening within a child’s online world. That said, what is a parent or an educator to do if they aren’t aware when a child really needs help? Teens are falling witness to cyberbullying incidents every day, and in most cases, make the decision to remain silent about what they see or read.
The important questions to ask yourself are: Does your constantly connected teen know when to take a “friend’s” dark or desperate status update as a serious cry for help? Can your teenager recognize a potentially unhealthy or dangerous post when they see one? The unfortunate truth is, most of the time we are left to rely on another child’s online friends to intervene by getting help on their behalf, which isn’t happening enough. This is why every teen needs to know what to watch out for, how to stand up for their peers, when to report and who to go to for help before it’s too late.
What can parents and educators do to empower teens to stand up and help their fellow students in need? Have them take The Great American NO BULL Challenge, the largest student-led campaign to fight bullying and cyberbullying in America. The annual campaign inspires America’s 25 million teens to learn how to eliminate bullying from their lives by creating a video with an anti-bullying message. Students and educators are provided all of the information they need to know about making a video, cyberbullying basics, standing up, prevention, and intervention tips via the online NO BULL Cyberbullying 411 toolkits. View one of the NO BULL teen created videos submitted at: http://nobull.votigo.com/contests/showentry/1016336
The NO BULL Challenge gives teenagers the chance to compete for $25,000 in prizes and the opportunity to have their winning videos introduced to the world at the star-studded NO BULL Teen Video Awards show in San Francisco, promoted by Live Nation. At the Teen Video Awards gala, students will watch artists perform live and meet their favorite celebrities on the red carpet. The spotlight will shine on the student-made films pertaining to NO BULL, offer students the chance to win thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes, and have their video presented center stage for the world to witness.
The Great American NO BULL Challenge is a massive collaboration between iSafe, National Organizations for Youth Safety, FCCLA, Dr. Mehmet Oz’s HealthCorps, teenDailyStrength, 4-H, Students Against Destructive Decisions, The Anti-Defamation League, Business Professionals of America, Project Change, American School Counselor Association, The California Endowment and Health Happens Here, iKeepSafe.org, The Megan Meier Foundation, National Collaboration for Youth, The Bully Police Squad, Communities in Schools, and The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Formspring, among others.
There is one thing that I know for sure; if we can educate and inspire America’s teens on how to stand up for what is right and say “NO BULL!” to all of the online mayhem, we will be steps ahead on the war against cyberbullying.
Shawn Edgington is the Founder and President of the Great American NO BULL Challenge and the bestselling author of The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media: Understanding the Benefits and Dangers of Parenting in a Digital World. Shawn is also the CEO of a national insurance firm in California where she lives with her family.