April 27, 2017

Emily-Anne Rigal is a Teen Who Plans to Stop Cyber-Bullying

Emily-Ann RigalBy Julie Samrick

At 16 years old, Virginia teenager Emily-Anne Rigal decided instead of feeling sad about the bullying she’d endured she’d help others going through the same thing.  “I wanted to live where teens live, to get inside their heads, and that’s online,” she said.

 

So at 16 Rigal founded WeStopHate.org, a site that “raises self-esteem to combat bullying,” she said. Rigal posted videos with her favorite confidence tips and tricks and other supportive ways for teens to feel better about themselves.

 

Three years later, Emily-Anne Rigal is a 19-year-old freshman at Columbia University and she hasn’t slowed down in her mission one bit.  What’s become alarming through her work on WeStopHate.org, though, is the number of teens who tell her cyber-bullying is a huge problem, beyond just raising their self-esteem, and they don’t know what to do. 

 

Rigal’s latest project is rallying support for an online Facebook “Bully Button” that she’d like to see as a standard part of Facebook, just like the “share” and “like” buttons are now.  See her enthusiasm for it here:

 

 

Users would press the Bully Button to report things like harassing comments and bullying behavior. Administrators could then discipline perpetrators in a quick and decisive fashion. “It’ll make teens more conscious about what they write on Facebook. If they abuse the Bully Button, or if they are reported for something they’ve written, they can have their Facebook account suspended, which I know would be a mortifying consequence to people my age,” said Rigal.

 

According to a 2012 survey of 54,763 secondary school students, two out of three have been victims of frequent online bullying.  “More terrible stories are surfacing of cyber-bullied teens taking their own lives each year,” explained Rigal. “And because Facebook is the most popular social media site, let’s start there.”

 

 To achieve this goal of getting the Bully Button on Facebook, Emily-Anne Rigal has launched BullyButton.org, where individuals can sign a petition to have the anti-bullying feature added to Facebook.  When enough votes are collected, the petition will be released to the media and presented to Facebook. Visit the page here to sign the petition.

 

“The Bully Button can’t stop all forms of bullying, but it would be a huge step for Facebook and others would follow suit,” said Rigal, who loves to study psychology and wants to work in the television industry someday.

 

In the meantime, Rigal understands that online is where teens are these days, but that doesn’t mean that’s where they should always be. In fact, one of her pet peeves is when she’s out and sees other teens glued to their phones.  She offered this tip to other kids her age: “Live life. What’s in front of you should always be more interesting than what’s on the screen.”

 

 

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