You couldn’t tell the pain Rebecca Ann Sedwick was suffering by just looking at her. The beautiful brunette looks like any other teen, in a picture she posted to Facebook, drawing a heart with her hands.

On September 8, 2013, when Rebecca left her home at 6:45 a.m. her family believed she had caught the school bus to Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, in Lakeland, Florida. Rebecca never arrived. Instead, she headed to an abandoned cement factory, climbed to a high perch in the forgotten concrete plant and leapt to her death, a victim of cyberbullying. Rebecca Ann Sedwick was twelve years old 

That same week, Trisha Prabhu, in Naperville, Illinois, some 1,100 miles away, returned from school to read about it in the day's newspaper.

Advertisements
Advertisements

“I was stunned, shocked and heartbroken,” says Prabhu in her TEDx Teen talk. “How could a girl, younger than myself, be pushed to take her own life?” The question weighed heavy on Prabhu, who says, “That’s when I knew I had to do something to stop this from ever happening again.”

“Deeply moved” by the impact of cyberbullying on teens, Trisha began to dig deeper into the “silent pandemic” afflicting her generation.

It started with a school project studying the relationship between age and readiness to send hurtful messages. Learning that the prefrontal cortex - that part of the brain responsible for impulse control and decision making, takes roughly 25 years to form entirely - she began to question if this was “why adolescents make rash, impulsive decisions.” 

With ¼ of the world's population (1.8 billion) under the age of twenty, 52% of all online teens experiencing bullying and 38% of those cyberbullied reporting suicidal tendencies, Prabhu knew it was time to act.

Advertisements

Working with the understanding that many doing the cyber bullying fail to realize the extent of the pain they cause, the tech whiz kid created an app specifically aimed at adolescents lack of impulse control. Prabhu says that given the opportunity to “pause, review, and ReThink” their behavior, “most [adolescents] will change their minds.”

How The Cyberbullying App Works

ReThink is a free, “non-intrusive” software app for #Android and iOS, which acts as a buffer between the creation of a harmful text, tweet or FB post, and sending it. It picks up on potentially damaging words or phrases such as “Go Kill Yourself!” and asks the user if they really want to send this.

What makes ReThink unique is its divergence from existing social media technology that puts the burden on the victim to “stop, block & tell.” Methods which have proven particularly unsuccessful, as the majority of cyberbullying victims, fail to report the abuse.“The overall willingness of the average adolescent to post an offensive message [is] reduced from 71% to 4%,” Prabhu said, proud of her app’s effectiveness.

Advertisements

“The overall willingness of the average adolescent to post an offensive message [is] reduced from 71% to 4%,” Prabhu said, proud of her app’s effectiveness.

And that's not all. She has strategies expand ReThink into a Chrome extension and mobile add-on, putting it into the hands of millions of children worldwide and "stop cyberbullying before the damage is done."

  #News #Apple