Posts Tagged ‘Bullying’

Make a difference with NO BULL!

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Did you know one out of every four teenagers experiences some form of bullying? Even more staggering: 70 percent of students are targeted and taunted on the Internet. Chances are, you may have witnessed or experienced bullying yourself. Rest assured you’re not alone; in fact, three FFA members just like yourself tackled bullying by taking up a challenge head on – the Great American ‘No Bull’ Challenge.

Tyler Gregory, Scott Hannah and Zach Veach joined more than 25 million other middle and high school students by participating in the challenge, which is centered around using digital responsibility and social media to make a positive impact on bullying.

“Bullying just stops kids from wanting to chase their dreams,” says 18-year-old Veach, a professional race car driver who dropped out of public school because of the bullying he was facing.

“We’re here to make a change because it’s getting out of hand,” continued Veach. “Because I wasn’t on the football or baseball team, I was different. And different was bad.”

Gregory and Hannah have had their own encounters with bullying too. For Hannah, the issue hit home when his friends began to harass a close acquaintance of his from another school. Their experiences led the trio to learn more about the repercussions of bullying and enabled them to make a difference.

Now, all three are national spokesmen for the No Bull campaign and travel around to leadership organizations like the National FFA Organization to speak and inspire other students to consider the challenge for themselves.

“Everyone knows what bullying is, but no one wants to do anything about it,” said Gregory. “We’re challenging each and every one of you to take on No Bull. All you need is a camera and an idea.”

No Bull Challenge participants submit a short video or public service announcement elaborating on the topic of bullying. Fifty videos are selected and then narrowed down to the top 15 finalists who are invited to attend the Teen Video Awards in San Francisco. Additionally, contestants are eligible to win other prizes including laptops, a new camera and even college scholarships.

For more on how you can make a difference and join the No Bull Challenge, visit

Annual anti-bullying ”NO BULL Challenge” set to return in 2013; free programs provided to teachers.

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO ( October 1, 2012 — The Great American NO BULL Challenge today announced the second annual NO BULL Challenge and Teen Video Awards as the world turns its attention to National Bullying Prevention Month. The 2013 event is set to take place in the summer of 2013 in Los Angeles and returns teen spokespeople: author Zoe Oz, racecar driver Zach Veach and advocates Paige Logan and Nicole Edgington.

“We have found that the level of teen engagement and the promotion of a positive school climate are elevated when lessons come from other teens. Change makers affecting millions, is NO BULL’s lofty goal,” said Shawn Edgington, cyber safety expert, best selling author, and founder of the NO BULL Challenge.

The inaugural No BULL Teen Video Awards where held in July 2012 in San Francisco and included Hollywood celebrities, athletes, and musicians among them, singer/songwriter Sean Kingston and The New Boyz. The event also spawned a spoof on Comedy Central’s Emmy-award winning animated sitcom, South Park. To cap off the night, Robert Austin Barker was awarded first place for his documentary, “The Formula: A High School Thesis.”

“I filmed “The Formula” in response to my own personal battles with bullying. I think it’s important for people to consider that just because they’re in a place of darkness doesn’t mean they can’t bring light to it. The NO BULL Challenge allowed me to help deliver hope to all teens around the world with my film,” commented Austin Robert Barker, the big winner of the evening.

For the 2013 Challenge, teens and preteens are encouraged to enter the competition by creating 2-5 minute videos, or, 30-60 second PSAs, with a message of digital responsibility and/or anti-bullying. Videos may be submitted this December.

To further its anti-bullying message and teach students “digital responsibility,” the NO BULL Challenge and NO BULL Teen Video Awards will provide free educational programs to schools, nationwide. The programs are being administered through the Challenge’s NO BULL Academy.

The lesson plans were created by teens, many of who have been bullied. Among those is 18- year-old filmmaker, Barker. Barker’s winning short film, “The Formula” is being provided to schools, along with a new video message to students by Barker, and a Q & A lesson plan.

Fifteen video-rich classroom presentations have been put together for all students in order to help promote a positive school environment. Each 20-minute presentation includes one of the top 15 nominated films from the 2012 entries. The curriculum promotes digital responsibility and is available at no cost to schools, thanks to talented youth filmmakers and sponsors of the NO BULL Challenge.

About the Great American NO BULL Challenge and NO BULL Teen Video Awards:
The NO BULL Challenge and NO BULL Teen Video Awards promote social responsibility, a positive school climate and social action using the power of music and film. The campaign’s national partners include, National Organization for Youth Safety, iSafe, FCCLA, 4-H, Bully The Movie and The Bully Project, HealthCorps, Project Change, Business Professionals of America, SADD, The California Endowment, among others.

About the Teen Spokespeople:
Zoe Oz–teen blogger and co-author, along with her father, Dr. Mehmet Oz, of “YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens.”

Zach Veach–turned to auto racing after being bullied in school. Zach is part of the Andretti Autosport in INDYCAR’s Star Mazda Championship series.

Nicole Edgington–a cyberbullying survivor and inspiration for the NO BULL Challenge.

Paige Logan–4-H Representative at the annual National Bullying Summit in Washington, D.C. Paige talks about her own experience with being cyberbullied.

Scott Hannah and Tyler Gregory, dubbed the NO BULL Guys–they’ve been promoting their anti-bullying message at the National Anti-Bullying Summit in Washington D.C., during school assemblies, online and in media appearances throughout their home state of Ohio.

About Shawn Edgington:
Shawn Edgington is the founder of the Great American NO BULL Challenge and the NO BULL Teen Video Awards. She is the President of the Cyber Safety Academy and the CEO of a national insurance company. A leading cyber safety expert, Shawn is the author of the best selling book, “The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media: Understanding the Benefits and Dangers of Parenting in the Digital World.”

Media Contact:
Suzanne Spurgeon

Yes to ‘BULLY’, No to Bullies

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

There’s nothing more urgent in today’s schools than bullying, and there’s a must-see documentary premiering in select theaters on March 30th that powerfully speaks to the growing epidemic titled Bully. Bully tells the gut-wrenching stories of several children who were victimized by classmates in such a relatable way, that you will find yourself wanting to reach out from your seat to help them. Chances are that the only way your child will get to see Bully is if you or another adult takes them because of the R rating the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) gave the film. Unfortunately, the rating has handcuffed the film from being seen in schools due to a very small amount of language in the film.

I was asked to screen Bully earlier this month so I could support the cause of reversing the R rating to PG-13. I invited teens, parents and an officer of Formspring to attend the screening with me, so I could get a strong sense for the film’s content from three different perspectives. I must admit, I went into the film thinking I was going to keep track of the number of “F” bombs that were dropped. I was wrong in a very big way. Twenty-five minutes into the film, I found myself searching for the reason for the film’s R rating. When it was over, all we could do was shake our heads as to what a disservice the MPAA did to such an important issue and film. I’m a conservative parent of teens, an anti-bullying advocate, a bestselling author and a mother who’s experienced both bullying and cyberbullying first-hand. I’m also a firm believer that every parent, educator, administrator and teenager needs to see this film, which brings me to the larger problem.

Many parents and educators think that bullying is a tired social problem that won’t go away and is part of growing up. Even worse, many adults don’t take cyberbullying seriously, and have yet to take the time it takes to understand the long-lasting damage it can cause.

This thought process has got to change, and here’s why:

Cyberbullying can be more damaging than face-to-face verbal harassment, because targets have no refuge. They are assaulted even in the privacy of their own homes. Damaging messages come 24/7 and rumors spread quickly. Since harassers don’t see their target’s reactions, they tend to become even crueler than they would be face-to-face.

Consequences have both short-term and long-term impacts, especially for the target. They often feel isolated, scared, helpless, humiliated and have a hard time trusting anyone, which is exactly why a supportive parent or trusted adult who will stand up for the wrong-doing is a must.

What can you do? You can’t stop the bullies or change their minds, but you can control their access to your children and how you handle a bullying situation in your home. Educate yourself about the problem of bullying and cyberbullying, its causes and consequences. Develop strategies with your child to avoid social problems related to online communication and assess your child’s behavior, on and off campus. Help your child take these important steps:

Block the bullies. You can do this on Facebook through settings, and you can block incoming text messages by calling your service provider. Check out Facebook’s Family Safety Center for more useful tools and resources.

Don’t read comments. Some messages and posts are going to get through to your children, either on their phone or Facebook page or from someone else’s. Help your child understand the power of deleting all messages before they read them. Bullies don’t win their game if their messages aren’t read.

Ignore comments that are read or talked about. This is hard to do. Your child wants to defend themself, but the truth is that bullies want them to fight back so they can continue to tear them down. If your child can find the strength to ignore what the messages say, the bullies will have no way to continue to harass them.

Report threats. If your child receives a message that threatens their safety, contains vulgar language directed towards them, or just makes them uncomfortable, they need to know that they can tell you or a teacher, and that they will receive ongoing support. If someone feels like their life or personal belongings like their house or car are being threatened, they should immediately report the threat to the police. Most states have enacted laws to protect children from cyberbullies.

Give your child a voice. Let them use the art of filmmaking to write and direct their own anti-bullying 2-5 minute film. The Great American NO BULL Challenge is the largest, youth-led national campaign in America that combats cyberbullying at the youth level. Online toolkits about “all things cyberbullying” are available on the campaign site. The annual campaign uses the power of social media to inspire 25 million middle and high school students to promote awareness, courage and equality using social media and filmmaking.

And most importantly, take a few hours out of your busy schedule to see the film Bully. Take as many teens to the film as you can, and advocate for your schools to screen the film–it’s that important and that good! Every middle and high school child needs to see Bully, and you can help make it happen. I can’t help but contemplate that maybe the MPAA had the bigger “picture” in mind when they gave bully its unearned R rating…just maybe it was their brilliant goal to get parents to accompany their children to see the film too? The fact is that today’s teens are very aware of what’s happening to bullied victims every day–it’s the parents and educators who are in the dark and behind the times.

Producer Harvey Weinstein is now releasing the film without a rating, which could further limit who sees the film. Theater owners have the decision to run a film without a rating, which are typically treated as if they have an NC-17 rating, meaning nobody under 17 can see it.

Sextortion: The Newest Internet Ugly

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

What I’m referring to is sextortion:  sexual blackmail of children and teens online just like you.  Because most teens are extremely trusting, especially when it comes to social networks, you’re an easy target, which makes this an even more difficult trend to stomach.                                                                                                                        

Here’s how sextortion works: Online predators, ex-boyfriends or frenemies get a hold of inappropriate photos or videos of you by way of email, text, hacking, social networks or chatrooms, and then threaten complete humiliation if they don’t get what they ask you for.  These criminals threaten they will post or send the inappropriate content to your parents, friends, family, teachers, coaches or bosses, make demands for money, or even threats of physical harm.  SCARRY!

Sextortionists are experts at getting what they want, knowing that teens will be too afraid to tell anyone what’s happening to them, especially their parents, leaving them in the driver’s seat to get exactly they want. Children and teenagers just like you can quickly become trapped in a silent cycle of online sexual exploitation, every parent’s worst nightmare.

From experience, we already know that every teen is vulnerable to the online “ugly” side of the Internet, which comes with being constantly connected.  As an adult and a cyber safety expert, it’s my responsibility to speak openly about what to do should you ever become a victim.

It’s important for you to:

  • Get informed, ignorance isn’t bliss. Understand what sextortion is, and promise yourself that you’ll go to your parents should you ever become the target of a sextortionist – NO MATTER WHAT.
  • Set all security and privacy settings to private & set alerts. Keep all of your profiles on social networks private, even after you turn 18-years-old.  Creeps never get tired of trying, especially when they can hide behind a fake profile on a social network.  Set a Google Alerts for your name, which will let you know the instant something terrible or embarrassing tagged with your name gets posted online.
  • Messages, photos or videos you send by text are never private. They have the ability to be saved, edited, forwarded, posted onto Facebook or uploaded to YouTube in the matter of seconds, where they sit perfectly poised for Sextortionists to use against you.
  • Don’t trust people online you don’t know! Never trust anyone online you don’t know in real life, and to always report any contact you’ve received from strangers to a trusted adult.
  • Don’t text anything you wouldn’t want your mom to see. I often hear stories from teenage girls about the sexy photo that was sent without a single thought of where it might end up.  And sure enough, the photo was inevitably forwarded out to friends, strangers, predators, parents and teachers for people to pass judgment on and potentially use against them.
  • Be aware. Criminals, online predators and backstabbers can use your private pictures against you.  If you think your sext is only going to be seen by your intended recipient, think again. Once it’s out there, it’s out there for everyone to see.  It’s no fun to be embarrassed or belittled, threatened, or coerced online – especially by those you know, let alone those you don’t.

It’s a fact that social media has become the focal point of your life, and it’s time that we adults face it.  Sextortion is not only the newest Internet “ugly,” but it’s a trend that requires all teens to take seriously, and become aware that Sextortionist experts are out they looking for teens and young children to prey on.

Remember, promises get broken, boyfriends become ex’s, and friends become frenemies. Unfortunately it’s the reality that you live in today, so be careful with who you trust, and don’t record or send anything that can come back to bite you.

Should Bullying Victim Have Been Punished?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Casey Heynes, a 16 year-old Australian, was repeatedly picked on by his peers at school for being overweight.  Last week he finally had enough.  He stood up to his bully, throwing him to the ground, which was caught on video and ignited a debate on the issue of bullying and how it is handled.  View the video at here Casey Haynes bodyslams bully richard gayle

The video demonstrates how Casey picked up his bully and slammed him to the ground.  Both Casey and the bully have been suspended from school.  Many people are outraged by the punishment Casey has received at his attempt to fight back and stand up to his bully.  An Anonymous message sent to the school read “We have had enough of this bigotry. They failed at providing a violence-free environment for their students, and when Casey took things in his own hands they bitchslapped him for defending himself.”

Is it right that both boys were suspended from school? Why didn’t bystanders try to stop the abuse? What can schools do to prevent this sort of situation?

I have the answer.  Every school needs to adapt a text-a-tip student support system.  The program allows students and community members to alert school administrators or campus police directly about bullying, drugs, drinking, or any other potentially dangerous situation or problem.

Have you ever been to a NFL game where you can report unruly behaviour?  That’s the exact technology, offered by GuestAssist, that’s starting to be used in our schools to report problems that are occurring – on campus or off.  The cost is $2,000 a year, and schools can have it up an running in 45 minutes.  It’s easy to use (I’ve seen it in action) and kids that have been offered this as a way to ask for help are using it!  Really?  Are kids are telling someone they are being bullied or that their best friend is doing drugs?

This system allows students to get help, before the situation gets out of control, or before it’s too late.

My daughter was bullied for months while she was at school.  A system like this would have helped her, but it wasnt available then.  But now that every school can offer this level of support to their students, it’s a must.

If this school offered their students a way to text in a request help, would Casey Heynes have reached out for help before he broke?


Shawn Marie Edgington is America’s leading Texpert, a cyberbullying prevention expert and your go-to cyber safety mom.  Shawn’s the author of Read Between the Lines: A Humorous Guide to Texting with Simplicity and Style, and the new book The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media, the creator of the One-Click Safety Series and the founder of The Social Media Academy.  She’s the CEO of a national insurance firm, where she provides risk management to clients across the country.

After a horrible, personal experience she had with her 16-year-old daughter being threatened by text and on Facebook, Shawn has made it her mission to show parents how to take the steps necessary to prevent their child’s social and mobile networking from turning into every parent’s one-click nightmare.

Shawn provided her expert advice in the upcoming documentary Submit: The Virtual Reality of Cyberbullying, on Fox Business, View from the Bay, KRON 4 News, The San Francisco Chronicle, CBS Radio, American Cheerleader Magazine, CNN Radio, NPR, and various media outlets across the country.

Meet Shawn or learn more about her new book and to get your free parent resources at: