Bullying in school has been a problem for as long as schools have been around. Whether we ourselves have been victims of it, or we’ve seen our friends tormented by angry and misunderstood teens, it is a part of our lives. Written by Jessica Contrera, The Washington Post has recently published an article revealing the story of a girl that was mentally abused & sexually abused by her peers, and her life was almost destroyed. The cellphone she so longed for eventually turned into her biggest nightmare. It all started in seventh grade when Maureen’s (whose real name is being hidden) innocent chat with her middle school crush led to not so innocent consequences.
“Maureen had started messaging on Kik with a tall, athletic boy in her class. They weren’t officially dating, but they talked every day. For weeks he asked for her picture. When she sent one, he asked for more. She liked him. She believed him when he said he would delete them. By March, the middle school crush had fizzled, but he still had the three photos she sent. One day, another girl in their class saw one of them on his phone. The next day, while Maureen was hiding at home, she says he texted it around the lunch room.”
Maureen, who’s always been an outsider at school, had to suffer extreme mental abuse after the photos of her naked body (and her childish naivety!) were shown to her peers. Her peers reactions, as it is common for teens, turned into vicious bullying.
“Now, the comments streamed in on her social media accounts, the new outlet for time-honored middle school cruelty.
Go kill yourself.”
After the incident, Maureen was shocked and devastated. A “friend” of hers suggested she use a razor because “cutting made him feel better.” She even tried to commit suicide by swallowing pills. Fortunately, she survived. In this digital era, it’s hard to delete information, embarrassing photos or anything you have “published” online lingers on somewhere, on someone else’s phone, computer, tablet. How do we teach our children about proper boundaries with different people in our lives?
“The story hardly ends when punishment is handed out. For every “sexting scandal” reported, an unknown multitude of parents and teens — mostly girls — are just beginning to grasp what it means to live in a world where nothing digital ever truly disappears. What do you do when your 13-year-old takes photos of her body to impress a boy, and now she’s crying, stomping up the stairs, slamming her bedroom door screaming, ‘You don’t understand!’”
What about the boy involved in the scandal, who cause so much trouble? He has been charged with “possession of child pornography, dissemination of obscene materials to minors and enticement of a child under 16.” According to state law, the boy, if convicted, might spend time in jail as a sex offender.
In addition, the case showed that Maureen was not the only victim; photos of four of her classmates were also found on the phone of the teenager responsible for the crime.
Talk about turning a problem you can handle, into one you cant!
It might sound ironic, but while the cause of Maureen’s problems and past predicament was her cellphone, her iPad helped her build a new life, where she is not the victim but the “queen.” In a way, it saved her life.
“In summer, Maureen lives in another world, where there is no boy, no girls who stare at her, no one who can see the thin scar lines on her forearms. It exists on her iPad, in an online gaming community called Minecraft.
She started playing it regularly in the first few weeks of ninth grade, when she realized that even though she was in a new school, the people were the same. To them, she was the same.
But in Minecraft, they call her Queen. And Mom. The game is made up of many tiny worlds where players can unite on teams to build places completely their own.”
As it often happens, a coin has two sides. One can be dark and ugly and the other – a safe haven. We can only follow the example of the brave girl who has shared her story. She is a true Olympian.
“The rules of their Minecraft world are that no one is allowed to swear or call anyone names.
‘People come there because nobody can get hurt, or you’ll get banned,” Maureen says.’
If one of her team members gets bullied, it’s Maureen who gets to report it.”
Maureen made a mistake, as most young people do. She learned and shared her story. She is changing the world by fighting the fears and troubles she once had to endure.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.