It absolutely broke my heart to see a beautiful 12-year-old girl on the front page of the paper yesterday.
Source: 1 NEWS
Kyana Vergara died at her Palmerston North home on January 11. Her death is being investigated by the Coroner.
Her family discovered she had been exposed to some nasty online bullying.
And, unfortunately this is an all too familiar situation.
Social media has opened up the flood gates for vile, offensive, harsh and downright unacceptable behaviour.
Do people think because they are typing the words and not saying them out loud that it's suddenly OK?
And you know what, most of the people wouldn't dare say these hurtful things to your face – that's because they're cowards.
I can't imagine what it's like for teenagers dealing with online bullying in this day and age.
When I was at school a thing called MSN Messenger was the only 'online' avenue we had.
I remember it well because a couple of girls got my email address and just went to town with abuse.
If I was signed on, their mean comments would fill the screen.
"You're eyes are so wide apart you look like a fish" was the one I remember the most. And then you had your typical "slut, bitch, ugly cow" etc etc.
Last week, I was taken right back to feeling like that 14-year-old sitting at the computer.
I do a weekly segment on Breakfast in which we discuss daily annoyances the Kiwi consumer faces.
People don't have to agree with me. People certainly don't have to like me. Heck, even I get sick of the sound of myself. But what I cannot, and will not ever find acceptable is this:
- "I think she used to be a he"
- "Brodie should be on the farm not the television"
- "Brodie your face bugs me"
- "Brodie looks like Christian Cullen in a wig with lippy" (that's pretty creative I'll admit)
In ONE day, a number of GROWN ADULTS had taken the time to go on their computers and write this stuff.
Now they say you should never read the comments – but why shouldn't you be able to?
Why are these people doing this? Does it make them feel better? Do they know it hurts? How would they feel if it happened to them?
So I went onto the woman's Facebook page who had suggested I might be a he – and low and behold she's got a picture with a beautiful baby girl.
I haven't been able to stop thinking about the woman and her baby girl, because I hope that little girl never has to put up with what her mother's just done to a complete stranger.
I actually don't know what the answer is to stop the trolls, to stop our beautiful young people dealing with this disgusting behaviour.
If adults are so freely trolling, how do we teach our kids that it's not OK?
One half of me says these people should be named and shamed – the other half says ignore, ignore, ignore.
Thankfully I can ignore, I can laugh it off and move on.
But what about the people who can't? How do we help them?
And how do we stop the trolls? Because it just cannot go on like this.