By Gabriel Noble
On Sept. 9, 2013, 12-year-old Rebecca "Becca" Sedwick did not go to school. Although the incessant physical bullying she had experienced had subsided since she transferred schools, the cyberbullying had intensified. Through social media sites such as Facebook and texting apps such as Ask.fm and Kik, cruel messages tormented Becca, including "You're ugly" and "Why don't you drink bleach and die." When the incidents were reported to the school, the response had been “She needs to get a thicker skin and ignore it,” Rebecca’s mother, Tricia Norman, tells Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga in an emotional interview. On that particular September morning, however, Rebecca could not take it anymore. She climbed a 60-foot tower at an old cement factory and allegedly leapt to her death.
[RELATED: Learn about Tricia's fight against bullying]
It is reported that one in three children is the victim of bullying at school, and with a growing number of young people online today, cyber bullying is enabling the terror to continue outside of school and into the night. The Kind Campaign, co-founded by Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson, was created to address these alarming statistics, and the harmful and ever-present phenomenon of girl-against-girl bullying in particular. Inspired by their personal experiences of being bullied as schoolchildren, Paul and Thompson now initiate school assemblies in schools across the country with the mission of “bringing awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of this girl-against-girl “crime.” In addition, their documentary film on the subject, entitled “Finding Kind,” has been screened in over 300 schools nationwide.
In addition to focusing on girls who experience bullying and the bullies themselves, they also address what it means to be a bystander. In the documentary, Paul meets a former grade school classmate, Amanda, who was relentlessly picked on because of her weight. Paul, who used to sit next to her in class, apologizes for not sticking up for her or reporting the bullying. Today, Paul reminds children that “you don't necessarily need to get in the middle of some big dramatic fight at school, but just saying hi to someone in the hallways or sitting with someone who sits alone at lunch can literally change their life.”
“Being a girl in school,” Thompson explains, “it is really hard to see that this is just one small chapter of your life. And just to know that they are not alone and that through Kind Campaign, there’s a support system of hundreds of thousands of females all over the country that are there for them.”
For Tricia Norman, Rebecca’s mother, who lost her daughter just over a year ago to bullying, organizations like the Kind Campaign give her hope that other girls will not endure what Rebecca did. With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, the Kind Campaign is currently on its sixth annual national antibullying monthlong tour, visiting 30 schools and encouraging thousands of young people to take a stand against bullying.
Who do you think is a global game changer, and what person would you like to see featured in this series? Let Bianna know on Twitter (@biannagolodryga)