When Sharlee Jeter and her brother, former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, were growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, bullying happened, but she says that may have meant being embarrassed in front of a room full of people. With smartphones and social media, when kids are humiliated or harassed today, it may be in a public online platform where the whole world can see. According to 2014 research by the iSafe Foundation, at least 52% of teens have been bullied online, and 35% of children have been threatened while surfing the web.
That’s part of the reason why Sharlee, who has been president of the family’s Turn 2 Foundation since 2010, was so enthusiastic about partnering with STOPit, a platform designed to help end cyberbullying. One of the foundation’s hallmark programs is Jeter’s Leaders, a four-year youth leadership and social change program in New York City and western Michigan, where the Jeters grew up. Sharlee said she’s been hearing for the past eight or so years from participants that cyberbullying is a major problem they see among their peers.
A mutual friend told her about STOPit, and she saw immediately that it would give some of the foundation’s program participants a tool they could use to combat online harassment when they saw or experienced it. The foundation is integrating STOPit into its youth programs, and Derek Jeter is personally investing an undisclosed amount in the company.