Everyone is looking for an answer to the bullying and cyberbullying problem. We know where it can be found: in teens themselves. We’ve met so many who are coming up with creative ideas, and running with them. They are spearheading movements and making a real, measurable difference. And here are some of their stories. Join them, and join us. Words wound, but words can also heal and help. We know it, and you know it - and so let's stop standing on the sidelines. Let's get in there and do something about it.Justin and Sameer, creators of Words Wound
Nice It Forward
The summer before my senior year, I noticed Twitter pages popping up that associated themselves with high schools and tweeted harsh and offensive things about students at those schools. I was disgusted by the anonymous tweeters’ ability to publicly humiliate their classmates for their own entertainment. Eventually, the trend caught on at my school and three pages were created about Osseo Senior High. I wasn’t comfortable with this sort of animosity setting the tone for my senior year, and standing by as my classmates were attacked wasn’t on my agenda. But it was difficult to combat this type of bullying for three reasons. First, I didn’t know who the tweeters were. Second, it was summer and it would be hard to get the school administration involved. And third, I’m just one person— how could I do anything? Eventually, the answer became simple and clear: The best way to beat a trend of negativity is to create a trend of positivity.
The result was @OsseoNiceThings, a Twitter account striving to do the opposite of the bullying pages: restore confidence in Osseo, bring back a sense of school unity, and show support for all students. Instead of insults, I anonymously posted compliments about classmates ranging from the three-sport athletes to the band kids and everybody in between. I didn’t know if the whole school would be on board, but I knew I could make a difference to a few people.
Incredibly enough, the account started to take off with many people retweeting what @OsseoNiceThings had to say. People even messaged me compliments to send out about other students. Eventually, I decided that it was important to share the kindness in other ways, so I created the hashtag #NiceItForward. I based this idea on the “pay it forward” idea of passing on kindness. Nice It Forward encourages all the students getting tweeted about on @OsseoNiceThings to go out and spread kindness in their own ways. I also found that it was really fun to tweet nice things about people and see how it could transform their days. Plus, within a week of the creation of @OsseoNiceThings, the bullying accounts were either deleted or shut down. The atmosphere of Osseo changed, and it was awesome to see a wider variety of students joining in on Osseo Nice. After a couple weeks, a local TV reporter encouraged me to say that I was the account’s creator, because he’d seen similar accounts showing up. After the news story broke, many classmates told me that the tweets had made them more comfortable going into the school year.
Running @OsseoNiceThings gave me great opportunities, including appearing on the Steve Harvey Show, being interviewed by Ryan Seacrest, and having Selena Gomez and Brooklyn Decker tweet their support to me. Even today, the story and the account continue to grow as people from places such as South Korea and Germany send their support. The experience has also allowed me to share the idea of kindness and positivity with others, such as junior high students.
The most gratifying aspect of @OsseoNiceThings has been proving to myself and to thousands of people around the world how powerful a kind word can be. It has shown me and my school that kindness and positivity are for everyone, and that as soon as we embrace that fact, attitudes can change. Social networking opens up a large audience, and everyone has the opportunity to use that power for hateful comments. Or, as @OsseoNiceThings has shown, social networking can be used to spread positivity around the world.
~ Kevin Curwick, 18, Minnesota
Photo credit: Scholastic.com