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Cyberbullying victim seeks awareness day in Ohio
By Megan Henry
(October 10, 2017) — When Britain Bennett started getting cyberbullied as a high school sophomore, she tried to laugh it off.
It got worse, however, to the point that she considered killing herself. For months, she would receive up to 100 comments a day on the anonymous social-media site ASKfm calling her a slut, a whore and “fake.”
“No matter what you do or who you are, you can be a victim of bullying, but you can overcome that, I promise you,” said Bennett, who is from Sandusky and is now 18.
In an effort to put an end to cyberbullying, she wants to designate Oct. 6 as SMART Parent Day to remind parents to discuss with their children social-media awareness, respect and timing — the basis of the acronym SMART.
“I have been helping children that have been bullied for so long … and then after awhile, I’ve been like ‘Why am I helping children who have been bullied? Why aren’t we stopping bullying from happening?’” Bennett said.
The Ohio State University freshman turned to state Rep. Steven Arndt, R-Port Clinton, to get a bill introduced in the House creating an annual anti-bullying day in Ohio.
“Parents really need to tune in,” said Arndt, the bill’s sponsor.
Thirty-four percent of children 12 to 17 years old have reported being cyberbullied, according to a 2016 study.
Bennett wants parents to know what their children have on their phones and to check on their use of social media.
“Make sure they know how they should be using them, and teach them how to use it wisely,” Benton said.
She said parents should get their children’s username and password for social-media accounts.
Bennett advises children: “If you’re posting something that you don’t want to send to your grandma, your mom or your dad, you probably shouldn’t post it.”
She is urging parents to talk to their children about how to respect themselves and others on social media, and to teach them the proper time to use their phones.
“It’s so easy to hide behind a screen, so easy,” she said.
Being a victim of cyberbullying took a toll on Bennett; she lost 18 pounds and was barely speaking.
“That was the worst time of my life,” she said.
Back in high school, Bennett created an anti-bullying campaign called TBH, which stands for: talk to somebody, block it out of your head and your heart, and help others.
“I know hurtful words can get to your head, but if you just stop caring about what other people think about you, you’ll start loving yourself for who you are,” she said.
The things people post online are typically things they would never say to someone’s face, Arndt said.
The bill is “an opportunity to bring awareness,” he said.
Megan Henry is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps Statehouse News Bureau.