Are you one of those parents who thinks that cyberbullying isn’t that big of a deal? Or that it couldn’t happen to your kid? The Canadian Safe School Network, a non-profit organization focused on reducing youth violence, transformed Jimmy Kimmel’s formerly hilarious celebrity “Mean Tweets” into a powerful anti-bullying PSA that every parent needs to see.
A celebrity reading mean tweets is funny. After years in the spotlight, they should be able to take a jab or two. A kid reading mean tweets is appalling. Now we know what our kids are exposed to from so-called friends online who make cruel jokes or outright bully them.
In the PSA, we see students reading unbelievable tweets that range from racist to homophobic to horrifying. Eric reads, “Guys, Eric isn’t gay. He just prefers the company of men… in his mouth.”
“I’m not saying Jessica is a whore, but if she were a video game, she’d be rated E for everyone.”
“Allan’s voice is soo annoying it makes me wish I was deaf.”
“Is it racist if I don’t like black people because of how much I h8 Sierra?”
“You’re a huge loser.”
“No one likes you. Do everyone a favour. Just kill yourself.”
Similar to the Jimmy Kimmel bit, we hear canned laughter throughout the video as the kids read horrible tweets about themselves. As the video progresses, the insults grow worse. The video concludes, without laughter, when one sweet young girl reads the most heartbreaking tweet of all: “Just kill yourself.”
In a press release, Stu Auty, President of the Canadian Safe School Network, said, “We wanted to use the ‘Mean Tweets’ model because in a way, those videos give the message that cyberbullying is OK — even funny. But adult celebrities have the maturity and confidence to overcome these hurtful words. Children don’t. For regular kids, words can cut like a knife. Cyberbullying is an epidemic that invades their lives and leaves many feeling like there’s no way out.”
If you have a child of school age, the odds are that this video brought you to tears. Don’t shrug it off. Don’t pretend like this degrading form of bullying doesn’t apply to your kid. And don’t chime in with the refrain that skirts the issue instead of providing a solution to the problem: “This is why kids shouldn’t use social media.”
Nope. This is the age of social media, and technology is part of every child’s life. While it is important for parents to monitor social media activity, there comes a point when you can’t shelter your child from the world any longer. So what are you going to do? Blame cyberbullying on technology and pretend it can’t happen to your kid?
Watch this video with your child. Open up a dialogue about what is being said at school and online. Talk openly about cyberbullying so that your child doesn’t feel trapped and alone when they hear the words: “Just kill yourself.”
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