What can we do about the epidemic of cyberbullying?

Audrie & Daisy is probably the most heartwrenching documentary I have ever watched, and it’s one I think that everybody should watch (particularly teens and pre-teens.) The film details the life of two young women, plus several others, who are not only sexually assaulted, but then subjected to online taunting, harrassment, and embarrassment in the form of pictures and videos. It is shocking, sickening, and heartbreaking. In one of the documented cases, the young woman committed suicide as a result of the harassment.

What was most shocking for me was the question of “why do these young men think it’s okay to sexually assault a comatose woman?” I really kept on asking myself that question. Who is training these men to think that it’s okay to take advantage of a woman? (The fact that most of the men/teens in question received nothing more than a slap on the wrist for their actions went a long way to answering this question.) In particular, a society where we idolize sports heroes, and demonize the victims (slut!) is a society that sickens me.

A quick look at the film’s website has some suggestions for what we can do to help – mostly in the form of education. They suggest screenings of the film, discussions with educators and parents, and raising awareness in schools. http://www.audrieanddaisy.com/take-action/. These are things that we can and should do. We need to teach men and young boys that violence against women is not okay – never, ever. (Frankly, I can’t remember a single such discussion during my time in junior and high school.) But, I think Christians need to be doing more here.

One of my favorite organizations that I have supported in the past is VDay. They are a global awareness campaign against violence against women, and they work on college campuses, raise money for victims, do advocacy work throughout the world, and are committed to stopping violence against women such as rape, female genital mutilation, sex slavery, etc. You can support their work here: https://secure3.convio.net/vday/site/Donation2?df_id=1325&1325.donation=form1.

Another way we can help is to practice, teach, and live kindness. In what kind of world is it okay to publicly shame someone on the internet by calling them a slut, a whore, or worse? In what world is it okay to publicly shame someone by posting nude, comatose pictures and videos of them on the internet so that they can be mocked and shamed over and over again?

Another suggestion is to continue to support anti-bullying legislation in your states (if you live in the U.S.) I found an online site where you can see what laws are in process in your state: https://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/. It’s important to keep the ball rolling, and for bullies to be held accountable for their actions.

Remember, if you are standing by while someone is being bullied, mocked and embarrassed online, then you are contributing to the problem. It’s time to take a step up and share in the blame – the change begins with you.

1 John 2:9 (NRSV): Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister,[a] is still in the darkness.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io

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