Please take time to watch this video.
If you haven’t heard the news story yet, here it is in full. Rebecca Sedwick, a 12 year old girl in Lakeland, Florida committed suicide last week after being cyber-bullied for years by other middle school girls.
FIFTEEN OF THEM.
And as you saw in the video, Rebecca even wrote in her journal, “How many lives have to be lost until people realize words do matter?”
My insides ache when I think about this story too much. There are just so many things for us to discuss and the facts are so discouraging.
The mom tried. They changed schools. She took away her phone. Put the child in counseling. I mean, she was doing what I stood in front of a room full of youth leaders last weekend and told them to do to protect their kids from cyber-bullying.
And yet. This little 12 year old still jumped to her death over words spoken to her.
It’s complicated dealing with teens and bullying. Not only are ugly words used, but they are used by and to humans who are going through the emotional turmoil of puberty. As if what is going on inside isn’t enough to drive someone to depression [please remember being 12. It was the worst.], but the outside forces of hate-filled words can end up feeling like too much for one little heart to handle.
Teenagers are dying at incredible rates from suicide- and it seems as the internet presence increases, so does the rate of suicide among younger and younger girls. [Read some stats here] And it feels hopeless.
BUT IT ISN’T.
We do not lose hope for the next generation. WE FIGHT FOR THEM.
. . . . . .
So how do we fight?
1. Pray. I know. It’s the cliche Christian answer. But the only One with a winning game plan here is God. He’s the only One who can see the battle in full and so we look to Him, listen to Him, and He is our only hope. Our only hope, y’all.
2. Talk to your gals. Please. Please tell me you are talking to your daughters, students, players, youth group, college babysitter, every teen girl you know about bullying. And please tell me you are talking about being the victim AND BEING THE BULLY.
We can no longer just address the victim. WE MUST ADDRESS THE BULLY AND TELL HER TO STOP.
Those fifteen girls have at least one parent each. And teachers. And coaches. They should have been stopped.
3. Know your ‘net. Do you know about ask.fm? Kik? Vine? Because every teen girl does. And she is there, using her words to validate or destroy others.
4. Use YOUR words. Intervene. Speak up. Get nosy. Encourage. I know teenagers can seem scary, but they aren’t. [You used to be one. Don’t forget that.] Get some teen girls in your life and start speaking into theirs. HELP THEM. PLEASE.
5. Get honest with your daughter. You’ve got to ask- is she the mean girl? Is YOUR daughter the bully? Please have eyes wide open to the possibility that someone is suffering because of your daughter’s words.
. . . . .
We have to change this trend in teens. For Rebecca. For her mom. For those fifteen mean girls.
We have to look culture in the face and say “NO MORE MEAN GIRLS!”
I had to write Speak Love because this behavior HAS to stop. We cannot let the next generation be exterminated by words of hate driving them to the point of death. I am standing in front of as many teen girls as I can telling them of the hope we have in Jesus, asking them to use their words differently, unifying them to stand with me to defeat that mean girl mentality forever.
It’s heartbreaking. It is discouraging. But it is not hopeless. We will fight for them.