I met Sarah Ball a couple of years ago, as she sat in the front row of a cyberbullying presentation I gave to educators at a national conference held in Orlando. As a teenager, she stood out from the rest of my audience of school professionals. She also stood out in terms of her contagious enthusiasm and interest, which was so evident in our conversation after my talk. Sarah told me of her story, and how she had personally asked the conference organizers if she could attend for free (since she was still in high school!) simply because she cared so much about this issue and wanted to make a meaningful difference. We have kept in touch since then, and we were able to feature some of her personal story in Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral. I wanted to feature it for our site visitors here as well, since it is inspiring – and because it can serve to motivate other teens and young adults to be powerful instruments of change in their communities!
I’ve had to deal with some really horrible bullying and cyberbullying. But I’ve tried to fight the good fight and to do something about it on a bigger scale, especially because I kept meeting others who were struggling, too. With my mind and heart heavy due to my situation and that of others, I started to research cyberbullying. Ryan Halligan, Megan Meier, Jeffrey Johnston, and more and more names kept coming up. Reading their stories and the decisions they made to end their cyberbullying cut me deeply. I remembered an organization my mom had told me about called DoSomething.org. It’s a place for kids and teens to do something to better the world. I then decided to create Unbreakable, a project to help me heal as well as heal others who were bullied. I didn’t have much of a plan at first—I just knew that I wanted to do whatever I could to end cyberbullying.
Soon, I got more passionate and wanted to tell more people what was happening. I wanted to be a voice for all victims of bullying. I printed out hundreds of pages of websites made just to attack kids. I sent a letter describing myself, my Unbreakable project, stories of suicide, and pages and pages of bullying sites to media outlets, politicians, law enforcement, celebrities, school superintendents, and anyone else I hoped would listen. The Tampa Tribune, ABC News, and Bay News 9 responded. Soon I was on a media train with Unbreakable. I created an Unbreakable Facebook fan page. My page targeted cyberbullies and the creators of the cruel sites. It also told the stories of Ryan, Megan, and Jeffrey.
In the beginning, the page was mostly a surge of congratulations to “whoever this is” speaking out. (Before the media buzz, I didn’t tell people that I was behind Unbreakable.) One student who had previously cyberbullied people posted, “I don’t know who this is but you are an inspiration to me. Thank you for standing up and speaking out.” I think it’s awesome that my project has encouraged others to change their ways, and that Unbreakable got a lot more students to think and care about this important issue.
As a result of these efforts, I have been invited to speak at Bullying Summits, Parent Workshops, School Board Workshops, Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, universities, and numerous schools. Through these engagements, I met leaders in my community who wanted to help make a major countywide anti-bullying event happen, even though it had never been done before. For six months, we planned, fundraised, and gathered support from the NHL and NBA as well as local businesses and restaurants. And then the day finally came!
The Unbreakable Movement for Peace program was a massive success. It was promoted all week in all the schools in my county, we had numerous guest speakers, free food and drinks for 500 people, and over 35 vendors. The event kicked off with Central High School’s ROTC performing the National Anthem, and then I spoke about this cause and those who have been victimized by cyberbullying. We all then participated in a beautiful balloon release to remember those who chose death as an escape from their bullies.
I continue to remain passionate about cyberbullying, and aim to keep honoring the platform and opportunities that I have been given. I want to help inspire other teens to make great decisions, contribute to the betterment of society, and stand up for what they believe in (and what I believe in!). We can all take the trials we’ve experienced, and turn them into something positive – something that can help the lives of so many others around us. We just need to stay motivated to take our good intentions and turn them into action!
~ Sarah Ball, 19, Florida
Thanks for all of your efforts and as a parent of young children I’m deeply concerned about my own getting bullied. I support your efforts and hope God will assist you in impacting this movement you are pursuing. It’s essential that we help make the world a better place to live in and each find our way to contribute.”Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16 (NIV) Whether your movement continues to grow or doesn’t it’s efforts such as these that inspire others to make change. Even if you prevent one just one child from being bullied it’s a tremendous success.
God bless you.
As predators hide behind technology, I would like to say that even adults such as myself are cyberbullyed. Whom do I reach out? Whom would believe me? When I tell you that people whom are close to me has taken that which I, with God’s grace, have overcome, and demoralize me, my heart breaks. If someone, anyone, would track phone numbers and connect every dot, they would be able to see the harassment which I am going through and the people involved. I am treated for depression and am made to appear paranoid or irrational. I come home to find things out of place, my every move is known, down to what I eat for dinner or if I even eat at all. It has gotten so out of control and the only things which keep me going is Christ and to expose that there are sick people whom need be evaluated, but are in denial. When one needs to control someone life to the point of destruction, it is sick and demented. I pray that not another life has to end before we, as a nation look, listen, and act.
As an adult I am still constantly being cyber bullied and it has had damaging results to my depressing, anxiety, and panic attacks. It is all taking place on Facebook and I am sure out in public as well. They are saying mean hurtful things about me, my family, and my business trying to destroy my life and telling everyone that NO ONE can stop them. They have went as far to say they hope my disabled husband father of our two sons one only a 6 yr old falls down the steps and dies and that I kill myself over their cyber bullying which oh they said they aren’t being bullies how can you wish someone DIE? I don’t know where to turn I have them blocked and about 100 people friends, family and even strangers reported their group and harassment/cyber bullying of myself as well as many other people. I know someone who told me due to their actions they have thought about suicide I have been talking to them a LOT and recommended they seek help but don’t know where to go for the help when it seems FACEBOOK IS CONDONING the cyber bullying, harassment, and posting of personal phone numbers, and where people live directions to their well MY home has been posted on their group. I am now fearful of my safety as well as my disabled husband and our six year old son. This is sad I was bulled bad hurt physically in school and by part of the SAME people that are doing it now today as I type this I am at a loss and tears flowing don’t know what to do feel so worthless even though as an adult I KNOW better my family, especially my sons even the adult son LOVE me and need me but words, threats, harassment, names, degrading things hurt so bad and will constantly be a scar on me and follow me to my grave. I just feel people should know it is NOT just children… teenagers that are targets and victim of bullies that is also adults I am 46 years old and still a VICTIM of cyber bullying and don’t know where to turn, GOD BLESS some bullies NEVER GROW UP and they just keep breeding and creating future bullies well their children teenagers and adult children already participate in the bullying in person and cyber bullying next is their grandchildren… help us please figure out where to turn and what to do! I DONT want to see someone I know end their live over cyber bullying or even someone I may not know that maybe at that point with someone or even this same group of people that have a FACEBOOK GROUP that they constantly attack cyber bully harass others constantly and think it is FUN, FUNNY and they are beyond anyone stopping them.
I have been attacked by two individulals who have been coerced into slave like enteties and I reffer to them as non-enteties as they are no longer human but slaves who obey there hacker owners. They contacted me a while ago on some hacker forum trying to get me to crack some ones e-mail but I refused to do so of course. Instead I posted the conversation online and ever since then they have been cyber bulling me. Fortunately for me they do not know my identity as they only know my hacker handle.
Wow, I had no idea that Cyber-bullying was such a big issue. It has the qualities of cancer, not only effecting the victims but those around them. Its unfortunate that Sarah had to have such an experience, but turning it into a positive to helps other is inspirational. Keep up the great work Sarah….