When my daughter was in fifth grade, she alerted me to the fact that girls were posting beauty grids on Instagram made up of pictures of their friends, then asking their followers to vote out the least attractive girl by drawing a big black X over her face.
Oh HAIL no!
As you can probably guess, I was horrified. And after I explained to my daughter how cruel and disgusting what the girls were doing was, she decided to take a stand by posting an anti-bullying message about the grids on her own Instagram feed. I also wrote a blog post about the whole thing. Then we sat back and watched with pride as others slowly began to follow suit, eventually sparking an amazing movement that landed us all on Good Morning America.
One small step, right?
Now, apparently, there's another disgusting social media trend making the rounds, only this time it's over on Snapchat, where kids are competing to see who can say the meanest thing about a chosen victim. Like me, UK mom blogger Rachaele Hambleton was alerted to what was going on by her 12-year-old daughter Betsy. So the mom-of-three took to Facebook to let other parents know what was going on, and to write a letter to her daughter to commend her for the way she handled it.
"Dear Betsy," Hambleton began her post. "This morning you came into the kitchen and showed me something that had left you upset and confused and I've not been able to stop thinking about it all day. People you know, including your friends have begun a new online 'game'. It consists of sending someone the letter 'X'. That person then sends you back a name of someone you all know...you then write the most horrific things you can think of about that person - about their weight, their appearance, their personality...the more horrid the comments the better. It then gets posted anonymously, but publicly, upon Snapchat stories for everyone to see & share."
So awful. Even worse than the beauty grids. But this type of bullying is not, as Hambleton later points out in her post, necessarily something new.
"When I was at secondary school we didn't have the internet," she explains. "Instead children bullied each other by writing things on the walls of the medical room in permanent marker or on the backs of the brown plastic chairs in tipex pen...when I saw what was being written about others I laughed along because I quickly learned it's what you did to be in the popular gang."
Raise your hand if you did that, too. I know I did. Which is why Hambleton has made it a point to teach her own daughter the importance of standing up for others—a point Betsy fully embraced by bravely posting her own Snapchat story in order to let everyone know she wants no part of this cruel and vicious new trend.
"It was a brave thing to do Betsy, because you are one person, and you've stood up to hundreds of teenagers," Humbleton wrote. "You've not followed suit or joined in with the crowds. I am so proud of you, you have the same fight I was born with. It's a fight that sits inside you... It's as fierce as fire and I'm left astounded that you've found it early enough to make a difference to people's lives right now, and I will do nothing but encourage it baby."
A+ to this insightful mama for giving her daughter the proper guidance, and to Betsy for having the courage to stand up for what she believes in, even if it means standing alone. Such brave, incredible women, both of you. #Respect