As a child, I admired my older brother as my role model. However, in his early teens, he was bullied just for the way he looked, talked and behaved. After seeing his distress, I longed to do something about it.
I did not want any other teen to go through what my brother went through. So, I was inspired to create a website to fight bullying by helping people who were bullied to connect to lawmakers. The main goal of this website was to use peaceful means, modern technology and the power of the common man to make a difference against bullying.
Because of my deep passion for technology, I took part in many programming classes. So, I combined my interest for technology with the idea of helping teens who are getting bullied. After learning how to build a website, I started work on mine. Finally, in early 2013, I finished building Bullyvention.com.
I faced many technical problems during the building period but, because I was determined to complete this website as soon as possible, I knew I had to make good use of my resources. I asked my programming teacher, searched through forums, and even asked peers for help. Eventually I was able to push through and solve the issues; and the website went live.
“The biggest reason I wanted Bullyvention.com to become popular was to help teens understand how widespread bullying has become and that they have to solve it.”
After launching the website, I had to think about getting exposure. I knew I had to expose my website more, so I contacted many members of the United States Congress, recorded my interviews with them and posted them on my website. I have interviewed more than a dozen Members of Congress for this website, and now Bullyvention.com has become the first site to partner with the United States House of Representatives’ Anti-Bullying Caucus.
I have also collaborated with leading big data scientists to create a ‘Bullying Heat Map’. Basically, computer software scans social media messages (for example, on Twitter) using algorithms to detect keywords unique to bullying and to analyze trends. This information is presented in the form of a heat map showing, in real time, where bullying is most prevalent and making it possible for people in authority to focus on those areas. The heat map has won national recognition, and I have been featured on television for my work.
My goal was to turn my family tragedy into an opportunity to stop bullying from happening to others, and I am making progress. The biggest reason I wanted Bullyvention.com to become popular was to help teens understand how widespread bullying has become and that they have to solve it.
If anybody is interested in making a difference, my biggest advice is to stick to your cause and stay with it until the end. If you lose interest or just give up then there is no point in starting it. You MUST finish what you start if you truly want to make a difference. Anybody in the world can make a difference, no matter how slight, which can have a huge effect. Take Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King Jr., for example. The former started a company at a very early age and lived to be a billionaire, while the latter stuck to his cause, making a difference around the world. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, the purpose of life is “to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Anybody, no matter what their background, can create change in the world just by standing up for what they believe in.