MIAMI (CBS4) – What was once considered by some to be a “rite of passage”, bullying has now been thrust into the national spotlight.
In a recent Pew Research Survey, 88 percent of teenagers said they witnessed some kind of bullying.
While many stay quiet, one boy took his message to the web and the emotional video has gone viral.
In May 2011, at 4 a.m., Jonah Mowry says he couldn’t sleep and made the video. His voice is silent, but you could almost hear his cry for help. Cue cards detail the struggle in his mind with messages like, “I’m scared,” and “suicide was an option.”
For millions of kids, that’s the new face of bullying. Jonah, then 13, says he was made fun of for being gay.
“For me, it was, it was really about the cry behind it,” said Ashley DaDagio is co-founder of the Fort Lauderdale-based group NVEEE, National Voices for Equality, Education, and Enlightenment. She hears from bullied kids all the time.
“And they say, hey, I need help,” said DaDaglio.
She’s happy that Jonah’s video has gone viral with more than eight million views on YouTube.
Hundreds of kids are posting their own videos, telling Jonah he’s not alone, and showing their support.
“I think it’s amazing that kids are willing to be proactive, and that the internet is providing an opportunity for them to be proactive,” said DaDaglio.
Her group is sharing the video with kids who call for help, because she says, a message like this can literally change the world.
“Cause if kids can learn to deal with each other and to communicate with each other in schools, then they have an opportunity to bring that college, and then an opportunity to bring that to the world,” said DaDaglio.
“The reality is words hurt,” said Florida State Rep. Dwight Bullard.
Rep. Bullard wants the legislature to hear the cry for help. He sponsored a new bill that would prohibit bullying, especially cyber bullying, in public schools and at home.
He says it won’t limit what students write online.
“However, if it endangers the livelihood of a student in Miami-Dade County public schools, or any school district in the State of Florida, there’s going to be consequences,” said Rep. Bullard.
The bill won’t be voted on until next year, but Ashley hopes Jonah’s video helps other kids speak up.
“They don’t know who to turn to, or where to go, they’re scared that if they do say something, that the bullying is going to get worse,” said DaDaglio.
Not all the messages about Jonah’s video are positive. Many people online criticize him, saying he staged the video.
Jonah denies that, and now says speaking about his troubles has turned his life around. He says he’s happy now.
To learn more about the group NVEEE, visit the group’s website at http://www.nveee.org.