Last Thursday, Lisa Ford Berry, founder and CEO of BRAVE Society, spoke to youth and parents at the Roseville Police Activities League gym in Roseville, about the simple steps youth need to know in order to deal with adversity as they encounter it in their cyber-powered peer communities.
Berry knows intimately the critical import of preparing youth for encounters with the cyber-powered adult issues that can literally break a person if unchecked. Her son Michael Berry, lost his life in 2008 to a suicide induced by a season of cyberbullying that robbed him of his identity and hope for a future. In response to his death, she founded BRAVE Society, as Michael’s legacy for making a peaceful society and she speaks to youth and adults about peer abuse prevention and intervention.
After sharing her motivation as mom of a child who was literally broken by his peer community through the fearful attacks and indifference to his suffering, Berry encourages the youth to consider the importance of their own decisions in life. “What drives behavior in adolescence is often impulse,” Berry said, “The cyberbullying that convinced my son there was no hope for him started out as a joke, and then it turned into a homo-phobic hate campaign. And back then, eight years ago, the social media was not even as vicious as it is today.”
Berry explains further that the peers who did nothing, and said nothing to help her son in his hour of need communicate with her about their regret. “Their decision to do nothing is something they have to live with,” she said. “This is true for you too. Your lives will be impacted by the decisions you make,” she said, “So I am talking to you about this because I know that it is easy to get trapped into decisions you will regret. I speak to you because I care.”
Below are the tips Berry offers youth and parents on how to respond when confronted with an incident or an experience that is challenging or difficult, and disturbs the peace – including experiencing or witnessing attacks on an individual.
- Stop – stop whatever you are doing; literally STOP whatever you are doing
- Ask – Ask what is happening to whom, when it is happening and why it is happening
- Listen – Listen, gather the facts and get the information
- Act – Assess the situation, make a plan and inform and involve others. Stick to the plan; both the short and the long term plan.
- Check in – Check in with students, victim (target), the bully (perpetrator), as well as the bystander.
Repeat as needed.
To learn more about the specific steps to address a cyberbully problem as a civil rights matter, go to: BRAVE Society