BULLYING ONLINE – TURNING NEGATIVE TO POSITIVE
Tragically, online bullying lead to a local teen taking his own life. Another girl was being attacked with cruel social media comments for sending a boy a picture she regretted. With so much negativity swirling around her junior high, Betsy Hughes couldn’t stop wondering if there were a way to turn things around. She talked to her best friend, Kenzie McKallor, and together they came up with an idea. What if they could start on online movement that would encourage kids to uplift each other through social media comments, rather than tear each other down? Over the last several months they have brought their idea to reality, and these 13-year-olds from Arizona have launched #PostingThePositive, an online anti-bullying campaign with an accompanying Instagram page @postingthepositive, and a website, www.postingthepositive.com.
CREATING THE CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT SOCIAL MEDIA BULLYING
“We wanted to make the online community a better place, leave everyone feeling happier about themselves,” said Betsy. “First we decided to talk to our principal about it last spring. He told us to come up with a plan, and so we worked on it over the summer,” added Kenzie.
Katie Hughes, Betsy’s mother, shared how the girls created a logo, put together a video announcing the campaign, and emailed their principal. Just before school started, the principal asked them to come in to discuss their campaign. Katie said, “The principal loved it so much, he asked the girls to present #PostingThePositive to the mayor and chamber of commerce the following day. They didn’t even have 24 hours to prepare, but the girls jumped right in and ended up getting a standing ovation from the community leaders!”
Next, the girls presented their anti-bullying campaign to their fellow students at South Valley Junior High. They said, “We got to show the video to our whole entire school. We were very nervous about it, but we were so fortunate to receive positive feedback from our classmates, teachers, and families. After we did this, we felt like our campaign was off to a very good start knowing that we had the support from our community.”
THE MOVEMENT TAKES OFF
Just a month into the campaign, the girls are thrilled to be getting such an overwhelming reaction. Their classmates are already starting to use the hashtags (#postingthepositive, #heart, and others), and they’ve started receiving interest from other schools in and out of state about adopting the campaign. Students who want to get involved can begin by following the campaign’s Instagram or Facebook accounts, using the hashtags #postingthepositive and #heart when posting on social media, or by creating their own hashtags for their particular school using #postingthepositive plus their school’s initials at the end.
Others in the community are taking notice, too. Origami Owl Designer Christina Nguyen heard about their campaign, and she and her daughter, Owlette Alexa Taylor, contacted the girls to give them a special gift. Katie said, “Christina and Alexa wanted to cheer on the girls, to encourage them to keep going—to ‘think bigger,’ as Christina said. Christina and Alexa invited us to meet them at a local frozen yogurt shop for a fun surprise. There they gifted the girls with custom Living Lockets celebrating their campaign—the girls had no idea and were so excited. They wore the lockets in a photo shoot and their video, too!”
In summing up their campaign, Betsy and Kenzie said, “We think the biggest challenge for teens on social media today is self-esteem, because it is so easy to get caught up in what is cool and popular, so people forget that being themselves and being kind is what matters. We want to change that.”
Betsy added, “With all the support, it’s motivated us to continue doing what we’re doing. We’re excited to see where it goes.”
At Origami Owl, we applaud these young teens who have found their “live sparkly” joy in being an online Force For Good and preventing bullying. We’re proud to help Betsy and Kenzie emphasize the importance of kinder, gentler social media comments. And we invite you to join us in #PostingThePositive!
To see their video and get involved, visit www.postingthepositive.com.