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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Reddit community stops high school bully, restores faith in humanity

    In the world of social media, plenty of people have a Facebook account, a Twitter account and a Reddit account. A girl named Sarah from a high school in Maryland had all of these things, but she had something else that most people don’t have: an entire Twitter account, owned by someone else and dedicated to spewing hatred at her.

    The school bully, Kevin, used the Twitter account to write poetry to Sarah: “Life has its ups, and you have the Downs. Please do us a favor, and fucking drown.” He also added heartfelt comments like “Sarah for biggest slut. Go die.”

    These posts and many others led Sarah to post on March 14, “The cyber bullying has gotten to the point where the school will only take action if I kill myself. Reddit – how do I get my story out and make it stop?”

    The Reddit community heard the rally cry and took up arms. Reddit users bombarded the school administration with hundreds of emails. The next day, Sarah arrived at school, where police officers were waiting. School administrators had a book filled with all of the terrible things that Kevin had said to her and to other students.

    More than 42 percent of 1,500 4th to 8th-grade students have been bullied online in the past year, according to a survey by iSafe Inc., which publishes information about Internet safety education. To the school district, Sarah was just one of many, until emails from Reddit users pushed administrators to take a stand.

    The fact that so many people — many of whom had no idea who Sarah was, apart from her posts on Reddit — emailed the school district, rekindles a little spark of faith in society.

    One of the largest problems with bullying is that people just stand by and watch it happen. For our generation, when someone was being teased on the playground, or in class, few people would stand up for the victim in fear that the bully would target them next.

    Now, with new technology comes a new method for bullies to attack their victims. However, while the bullying may stretch beyond the school day, victims have more ways to stand up to their persecutors.

    Kevin probably didn’t realize how much his words affected Sarah. He probably thought that he was being funny in his own cruel, sadistic way. But with the Internet, you can’t really see how much a comment hurts someone. The bully can’t see the hypothetical bloody nose that would cause him to smugly walk off for that day. He (or she) can just keep pushing and pushing until the victims actually think about killing themselves.

    Kevin probably didn’t realize how cruel he was being, or maybe he did, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that a community filled with people who may have been bullied saw someone who saw no way out of a situation and provided her with one. If Sarah didn’t cry out for help, she may have killed herself. Luckily, people cared enough not to let that happen.

    — Dan Desrochers is a chemistry freshman. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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