The senseless act of bullying has been around from the Biblical time of Cain and Abel, and unfortunately is still a part of our society today.
Technology and the daily use of electronic equipment have brought the act of bullying to a whole new level, now referred to as cyber-bullying. According to the National Crime Prevention Council the act of cyber-bullying has been defined as "when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person". Cyber-bullying has become so prevalent in fact that it now affects almost half of all American teenagers, although the problem is also world-wide.
Research has shown there are a number of serious consequences of cyber-bullying victimization, including low self-esteem, frustration, stress, anger issues and feelings of being scared and depressed. These very serious effects have brought cyber-bullying to the attention not only of legislation but to multiple non-profit organizations and awareness campaigns. Cyber-bullying has also received some attention in the media, including several films depicting young teens dealing with the issue.
ABC’s One Life to Live has recently begun a new storyline with the character of Shane Morasco who is being cyber-bullied on his “MyFace” page,
which is a fictional mix of Facebook and MySpace. Due to the character’s online harassment he has gone from this sweet kid to someone who now lies to his parents and skips school. The character’s grandmother has also become involved as she has figured out what’s going on with him, but has also promised not to tell his parents. As with most soap operas, this storyline will most likely continue for awhile before it gets completely worked out. But no matter what the outcome of this storyline is, a big kudos goes out to ABC and OLTL for once again tackling an important issue affecting our society.
To tie in with the cyber-bullying storyline on One Life to Live
brings us to a young girl from New York named Tori Wilson, whom I recently made contact with. Tori is not only a very talented singer and songwriter, but someone who has experienced being bullied first-hand. I recently interviewed Tori about what happened to her and how it inspired her to write and produce an incredible and touching song which she entitled “NOT TODAY”
Here is Tori’s story:
What’s your name, age and where are you from?
My name is Tori Wilson, I am 11 years old and I live in Long Island NY.
What inspired you to write this song? Several incidences of bullying both in person and cyber. Can you explain what happen to you? I have several experiences but the two that stick out in my head are these two girls. One girl who knew a boy a I went to camp with telling me on facebook how ugly I was, how untalented I was and constantly shooting nasty messages to my inbox. And another girl simultaneously posting both publicly on the wall, my pictures and inbox, she was a friend of a friend. It progressed to in person bullying. How did you handle it? I told my mom and we blocked her from all access to my facebook account and information.
Were you able to turn to someone for help? Yes, my mom.
How was the situation solved? We blocked all access, answering them back just lowered me to their level; it would not have accomplished anything, so we eliminated them from my life.
What important steps do you recommend someone take who may be a victim of cyber bullying? Tell a trusted adult, know you have not done anything wrong, and understand you are not alone. They pick on you because of their insecurities; it makes them feel better to knock someone else down.
How can others in their own local communities help those who are victims of cyber bullying? Encourage them not to keep it a secret, share with friends and trusted adults. If you know this is happening to someone you know, speak up, and let them know they are not alone. You need to stand up for what you believe in, and should always believe in yourself and your friends. Cyber bullying is done in private and can be hidden. The victims don’t speak up for fear that they deserve it. All kids get bullied at one point or another including, the popular kids, the thought that only the unpopular kids are picked on is very untrue. When you keep these things to yourself you start to believe what they say to you.
One Life to Live will be dealing with the issue of cyber bullying with the character of Shane Morasco, are you glad to see a major network like ABC take on this very important issue? Yes, to get to the point we have now that kids are killing themselves speaks loud enough that it is not being addressed enough in the media. Is there something more the networks should be doing? Yes they should be putting the messages in the paths the kids may cross. Kids relate to media, iPods, music, TV shows, it is just not coming to light in the shows we watch but too many lives have been lost already. The stories headline the newspapers, but we don’t read the papers, not enough parents talk about it. It is thought bullying is a part of childhood you get tough and get over it. With all the access to media we have these days it is so much more than that.