Being the Change

Hello, my name is Julia and I am going into my senior year of high school. I wanted to take a few moments to share my journey to battle cyber bullying, in the hope that by reading this we all can realize the ability we have as high school students to make change. During my sophomore year I took a class titled Law and Society. One of our major projects during second semester was a legal resolutions project. Here we were challenged to find a problem facing the world and to develop legislation to solve it. For the project I decided to take on cyber bullying. Through my research I reached out to families who had lost children due to constant harassment online by their peers. I was curious so see what they wanted to see changed, given the issue was so close to them. This is when I came into contact with the Megan Meier foundation. For me, this was the defining moment when I realized that something needed to change. I made a promise to each of these families. I promised that I would not stop fighting for change after I turned my project in. This is a promise that I intend to keep. I have been an active member of my high school’s public speaking team for all four years and I decided to use this platform to help spread the word. I participate in a style of speech called Original Advocacy. This is a ten minute, individual speech where you address a problem and propose a legislative solution to solve it. After the legal resolutions project, I had earned a great sum on knowledge about cyber bullying that I wanted to share with other high school students. I decided to use Megan’s story for the intro to my speech.  Through delivering my speech in competitions during my junior year, I was able to reach around a total of 100 students. However, I wanted to make sure that other students outside of the public speaking spectrum could learn about the dangers of cyber bullying. This is why I decided to start a cyber bullying awareness club at my school. What I failed to realize, though, was the lack of interest in signing up. I had envisioned a group of students working to research and draft legislation for cyber bullying while helping to educate the public. Like all failures you gain something, even if it wasn’t what you were hoping for. What the lack of interest showed me was how much work there needed to be done. How could I inspire people to stop cyber bullying when the presidential candidates were harassing each other over twitter? People, who are supposed to be leading our county and setting an example for citizenship were doing the exact thing I was advocating against. This is when I was given an amazing new opportunity. In 2016, I was selected to attend California Girls State. This is a one week program where one student is selected to represent their school. We then all work together to develop and run our own state government. One of our many responsibilities in preparing for the program was to write a piece of legislation. Here was my opportunity to get the word out about cyber bullying to high school leaders from all over my state. Even though my bill was not passed it received lots of praise and sparked realization in many other Girls State members. Like I said earlier, I made a promise to those families to keep the fight against cyber bullying alive. People need to start taking action because cyber bullying is only on the rise. A 2013 youth risk behavior survey found that 15% of high school students were electronically bullied in the past year. This number increased dramatically when two years later, 52% of high school students reported being cyber bullied. This problem is not one that can be changed quickly or quietly, and that I why I continue to fight for the victims that have lost their voice. I intend to keep my promise. As students, our voices are often dismissed for lack of wisdom or knowledge. What I want to prove to you all is that our voices are the most important ones. We represent a future, which I know is a cliché term, but here especially it rings true. As we grow up and raise our own families we will have the opportunity to show them that bullying is not a necessary part of growing up. Thank for taking the time to read this. I hope you are able to take this and go onto do bigger and better things in the fight against cyber bullying.