Inside: Cyberbullying is prevalent for our tweens and teenagers on social media. Here’s what I learned about bullying prevention and cyberbullying from having a viral post on Facebook and this is what everyone needs to know.
So, I wrote a post on Facebook about the new Peter Rabbit and food allergy bullying and it went viral overnight.
Good Morning America reached out and interviewed me about my post and I did a quick live video on my very small Facebook page, Coffee and Carpool.
I woke up the next morning, and before the GMA interview even aired, the haters had found me.
There were ten nasty comments about me, my son and what I said waiting for me.
And did I say something divisive?
I honestly didn’t think so.
I asked for kindness. And awareness. I asked that if people chose to see the Peter Rabbit movie, to talk with their children about a scene in the movie where the rabbits deliberately attacked Mr. McGregor with his known food allergy. McGregor had to epi pen himself in the leg to save his own life. The whole scene was made to be a joke.
I didn’t ask for a boycott. I didn’t ask for outrage. I didn’t ask for special treatment for my son who has life-threatening food allergies.
But I did ask for a conversation.
I asked that anyone who sees (or doesn’t see this movie) has the discussion with their kids that teasing someone or bullying someone with the food they are allergic to is not funny and has very serious consequences.
But the trolls and the haters came out to play. And hate on me they did.
They spewed words that stung and hurt and I couldn’t shake off.
The comments kept rolling in for over 24 hours and are still being written.
And in the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets, I’ll give you a sample of what was written about me, my son, and his food allergies so you can get a small taste of my trolls’ words (all typos belong to the original authors, the asterisks are mine:)
- Your kid is going to be a p*ssy when he gets older and will probably get his *ss kicked because you didn’t take him off your t*tty soon enough. Grow up lady.
- You are what’s wrong with children these days. I think your page should be boycott. Smh! I feel sorry for your child that will be laughed at for your ignorance and ill-educated manner….
- Wtf, we really do have too many d*ckheads in today’s society. Don’t go and see Peter Rabbit then…don’t have to post it on social media you idiot.
- It’s a movie you idiotic nut job!… You just want to be famous but you really are making yourself look like an idiot! Put your kid in a bubble or home school him….
- Lol your crazf
- This lady is an idiot and wants to be seen on tv so she can be famous and make her kid famous, but now, her kid will probably be laughed at for his mom’s stupidy and that’s sad
- Get a life and stop making things bigger than they are. I was bullied, for real, and my bullies beat me up and gave me a bloody nose until I learned that the only way to deal with bullies is to punch them in the face!
- You need to find better things to do with your time then complain about cartoon rabbits, be happy the farmer use his EpiPen.
- Nobody gives a shit. Ppl actually have real problems. Child abuse, racism and reg probs instead of this bs. All you ppl will bitch about anything to get a like or get on tv or whatever. Stupid
- Get a job “mommies of the year”
- #snowflakemoms #helicopterparents The funnier thing is the mom went to see the movie before the kids?…lmafo!! WTF? Do you chew their food for them too like a mother bird?
- Get over yourself it’s a move you just want attention Parents like you are a joke
- I have empathy. But how much empathy does this woman need when she just goes on the news and embaresses her child because of how she feels? How much empathy does she need? I have empathy for her kid.
- Get over it lady. The world is not a nice place and you should teach your kids that just as much.
- This chick has lost her mind thinking that’s offensive …
- Go f*cking kill yourself.
Cyberbullying is no joke.
What the hateful words have taught me about cyberbullying and bullying prevention:
What do these words teach? What have they taught me?
Three seconds in, I realized I was being cyberbullied.
Much like our tweens and teens who put themselves out there on social media and then get bullied, I was being attacked.
But in all of my research and bullying experiences with my daughter, nothing prepared me for this.
The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The shaking of my hands.
The bitter taste in my mouth.
But as soon as one person stood up for me and my message of empathy and tolerance, I was better. My breathing returned to normal. It took one person to come to my rescue and stand up for me. Just one person.
When I tell stories of what is said and done to my daughter at school, most adults respond with, “I don’t understand why there’s no empathy in kids these days.”
After what happened to me online today, I completely understand why my daughter’s peers have no empathy towards each other and why kids feel like they can say awful things to other kids.
See, I knew that kids who bully or tease other kids are either bullied themselves or are around adults who bully.
And I realized, (because I clicked on their names out of curiosity,) that most of these people leaving hateful comments to me online are parents of young children.
Which made their comments sting even more.
Because these people’s hateful words and messages are being heard by their children.
And these children are the ones who spew hateful, heartless, and mean-spirited comments on the playgrounds, cafeterias, and hallways of our kids’ schools.
These are the types of kids who tease my daughter for her visual impairment and harass kids for being different.
What We Can Do to Spread Kindness and Empathy:
So how do we increase bullying prevention in our schools? How do we protect our kids from these hateful words?
And how do we stop these kids from hearing–and then repeating–these awful, hateful messages?
Honestly. We don’t. We can’t.
And we can’t change an adult’s mind. We can’t change someone who stands firmly in their right to say whatever they feel like saying, no matter how hurtful.
The trolls who called me names and told me I should f*ck off are not going to ever be convinced that they’re wrong.
So the hateful words are still going to come. The hurtful words are going to be said. And their kids are going to hear them and will probably one day repeat them.
But here’s what we can do. What we need to do.
Our words need to be louder than theirs.
Much, much louder.
Because as a fellow food allergy mom, Julie Molloy, wrote me in support, “I don’t need to convince haters. Haters help me realize what my kids will deal with if we don’t continue to speak up. Our kids are worth it. Let’s continue to speak up.”
So all of us who believe in kindness, and in empathy, and the Golden Rule have to project our message of tolerance and acceptance and love louder.
Louder than the hateful words.
These kids who hear the nasty messages at home, have to hear our message outside of their home.
How can we get the kindness through to them?
How can we make them hear our message?
How can we spread love and kindness and empathy?
By being the adults who coach their sports teams and lead their scout troops and teach their religious classes.
We have to surround these kids so that our words, our kind words, overpower the hateful words they hear at home.
Because if they’re not hearing words of empathy and kindness at home, they need to hear it somewhere. Anywhere. But especially from an adult they know and trust.
And if it’s not coming from the adults raising them, it falls to the rest of us to do it.
It falls to the community that surrounds them.
It falls to us. The people with the kindness.
Are your kids being bullied? Here are some resources: