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Children read mean tweets to show the damaging effects of cyberbullying

SHARE Children read mean tweets to show the damaging effects of cyberbullying

Hear the phrase “read mean tweets” and you probably think of Jimmy Kimmel, whose late-night talk show has popularized the reading of mean social media comments.

Just last week, President Barack Obama made headlines for reading the mean tweets that social media users wrote about him. NFL stars, music artists and celebrities have also read those tweets aloud on the show.

But a new “read mean tweets” video from the Canadian Safe School Network won’t make you laugh. Instead, it’ll show you just how hurtful mean tweets can be for children. Disclaimer: This video is impactful and contains mature themes.

In the video, children read aloud the mean tweets people sent their way, as BuzzFeed reported. The video starts with some lighter comments and insults — ones you might give to your brother, for example — that elicit laughter from a crowd. But the crowd’s cheering quiets down as the comments become darker.

“Ethan, are ur parents brother and sister? Because ur face looks retarded,” reads one. Another says, “No one likes you. Do everyone a favour. Just kill yourself.” The video ends with the phrase “Cyberbullying is no joke” appearing on the screen.

The video is an attempt by the Canadian Safe School Network’s campaign to show how damaging negative social media comments can be to children and families alike.

“We wanted to use the ‘Mean Tweets’ model because in a way, those videos give the message that cyber bullying is OK — even funny,” Stu Auty, the president of the network, said in a press release. “But adult celebrities have the maturity and confidence to overcome these hurtful words. Children don’t. For regular kids, words can cut like a knife. Cyber-bullying is an epidemic that invades their lives and leaves many feeling like there’s no way out.”

Cyberbullying is an issue for children in America, too. In fact, 21 percent of American teenagers have been bullied online and 15 percent of teens have admitted to bullying someone else online, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center. Overall, one in four teens have experienced cyberbullying, with one in six having done it to others.

Cyberbullying victims were 1.9 times more likely to commit suicide than students who hadn’t been bullied, the research center found. Bullying victims overall are “2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims,” the organization reported.

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at hscribner@deseretdigital.com or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.