Samantha Milan is 13 years old, but already she has become accustomed to public humiliation. The cruelty began at school then steadily evolved into cyberbullying online.
“This kid started threatening me, and then it went online to Instagram,” Milan says. “The caption said something like, ‘Look who’s hungry.’ It made me feel like I just wanted to die.”
Children who are bullied online are twice as likely to consider suicide, ABC News reports. Samantha says the humiliation hurts doubly because even when she turns her computer off, she knows the cruel comments are online.
“It feels horrible because everyone can see it,” she says. “And everything that goes online, never goes away. Even if you destroy the computer, it’s still there.”
Fortunately a new app called StopIt is helping teens get each other’s backs. It isn’t easy to stand up for bullied kids—even if they disagree with it, the classmate might fear becoming a target themselves. The app allows students to anonymously report bullying with photos, videos, and screenshots to an adult they trust. The app is how mother Tina Lynaugh discovered her son with autism was being harassed. The message was sent to her in secret, but she is grateful to the student who stepped up.
“It was a child who finally said, ‘Enough is enough,’ and I’m so grateful to whoever that child was,” Lynaugh says. “I’m glad that the children feel comfortable that they can actually say StopIt, and not feel intimidated themselves or feel that they’ll be attacked the next because they came forward.”