The Girl Scouts will be testifying on Capitol Hill today, but not about the dangerously addictive qualities of their Thin Mint cookies and how you will get fat and hate yourself if you eat an entire sleeve of them in one sitting. Instead, Girl Scout Dominique Napolitano of West Islip, N.Y., will educate the House Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee about the dangers of online bullying.
“It is very important for teens to promote online safety, because many teenagers fall victim to cyberbullying,” a press release from the Girl Scouts of America quotes Napolitano as saying. “Hearing online safety tips from an adult can be boring. When the advice is coming from another teen they might feel like the other person knows what they are going through. I am inspired to advocate for teen safety because I want to help save teens from feeling hurt or guilty.”
Unless, of course, said fellow teen is as boring as an adult.
That’s not to make light of Napolitano’s or the Girl Scouts’ complaints. It was just four years ago, after all, that 13-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide in response to online bullying. Lori Drew, the mother of a friend of Meier’s, used a fake account to harass Meier in order to get revenge for rumors Meier allegedly spread about Drew’s daughter. Left unsupervised and with no one to talk to, Meier hanged herself after receiving a series of demeaning messages from Drew, who sent them from an account supposedly belonging to a young man.
It’s stories like Meier’s that inspired a group of 23 Girl Scouts to work with Internet safety expert Parry Aftab to “develop online safety tips and advice for parents and young boys and girls.”
A celebrity cameo by Dr. Phil McGraw — of Oprah fame! — will help the Girl Scouts make their case that bullying is bad, especially when it’s on the internet where it is impossible to just ignore it, unlike in real life, where they can press a button and make the bullies go away.