Another kid has committed suicide as a result of being bullied, and ugh, we just don't want to live on this planet anymore. Seriously, can we just pack a rocket ship full of cookies and kittens and go start a colony somewhere else, perhaps on one of Jupiter's moons? Or, alternately, can we pack a rocket ship full of spiders and superglue, put the world's cyberbullies in it, and shoot them into space? Either way, something has to be done.
The worst thing about this story is how familiar it is: Rebecca Sedwick, a 12-year-old girl, had a falling out with friends last year over her flirtation with a boy in her class. Targeted by a group of fellow middle-schoolers, she became the victim of relentless bullying that began with being shoved in the hallways between classes, then moved online, where there was no hope of escaping from it. The abuse was cruel and constant.
"Why are you still alive?"
"Can u die please?"
After receiving a barrage of messages like this via apps like ask.fm, Kik, and Voxer, Rebecca sent goodbye texts to two friends, walked to an abandoned cement plant near her home, climbed onto a platform, and jumped to her death.
Needless to say, stories like this make your Sparkitors want to do something rash (see: rocket ship, kittens, space colony). But more importantly, we want you to know that nobody deserves to be abused like this—and if it's happening to you or someone you know, then you can and should do something about it.
Whether it's a parent, a teacher, a therapist, a friend, or a bunch of lovely strangers on the world's most fabulous website, telling someone what you're going through is really, really important. A lot of kids don't seek help for bullying because they think there's nothing anyone can do to make the bullies stop—and some of the time, that might even be true. But even if the adults in your life can't physically tie the bullies down and beat them in the face with a salmon (as much as we might like to!), they can still be there for you, listen to you, and help you remember that you're not going through this alone.
The Internet is full of resources for bullied kids, from the It Gets Better campaign, to the Cartoon Network's anti-bullying portal, to the Trevor Project. Even the government has an official site to help fight bullying. These are places where you can get information, find support, and read other people's stories. And if you're ever in a bad place and you think you might hurt yourself, call the National Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 right away.
And if things get really, really bad, shut it down.
The worst part of cyberbullying is how many kids subject themselves to it — by refusing to block people, disable commenting, or quit certain apps, because they think they should be able to "take it". But choosing not to give repulsive people the pleasure of abusing you doesn't make you weak or cowardly; it makes you smart, and strong enough to recognize that you don't have to take crap just because somebody decided to throw it at you. Don't be afraid to remove things from your life that only make it worse.
And finally, get involved—especially if you're NOT a victim.
Not being bullied? That's great, and we hope you never will be. But if you see or hear about this happening and you don't speak up, well…you stink. Seriously. Standing by while another human being is tormented by sociopathic monsters is cold and mercenary and it sucks. So if you know that someone is being bullied, be loud and proud about supporting them—and if your friends are bullies, be loud and proud with your condemnation. The only way this shizz will ever stop is if it becomes socially unacceptable, not just to the victims who bear the brunt of it, but to ERRBODY.
Are you as devastated about Rebecca's death as we are? Do you have a great anti-bullying resource? Share in the comments.