This interview is part of the After School Social Change with Technology Interview Series. This article features the summary of After School’s Interview with David Zhao, Entrepreneur and Founder of End to Cyber Bullying (ETCB)
Bullying exists in all walks of life. Because technology allows communication to flow more efficiently, safety measures are required to prevent bullies from using it to hurt others. Cyberbullying isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a societal problem that exists around the world. David Zhao founded End to Cyber Bullying (ETCB) to stop people from utilizing technology to bully others.
“I have personally experienced exclusion and harassment at a young age due to my upbringing as an international student who didn’t speak English fluently,” says Zhao. “Although it was tough at the beginning, my optimism has led to good friends, family, and a supportive community. I managed to channel the feelings I felt of negativity at a young age into ones of positivity. That was one of the key aspects that led me to start End to Cyber Bullying,” he continued.
ETCB was founded in May of 2011 “to raise awareness, provide a plethora of cyberbullying information, offer compassionate, approachable services, and mobilize students, educators, parents, and others in taking efforts to end cyberbullying.”
Similar to Zhao, After School founder and CEO Michael Callahan was also a victim of bullying in high school, which has changed as technology allows us to stay connected 24/7.
“Traditional bullying was more physical and temporary whereas cyber harassment can have long-term consequences. Digital files can spread and be stored permanently whereas traditional bullying was more temporal,” says Zhao. When dealing with bullies, Zhao recommends that students don’t try to handle it all by themselves. “It’s ALWAYS important to reach out to someone. That someone can be your family, your peer, your counselors, and really anyone so the problem is understood by someone else,” says Zhao.
As a private and closed social network, After School allows teens to post safely without revealing their name to strip away judgement and negative consequences that are generally associated with sharing how they are being bullied or abused by other students. “The active approach After School has taken is the exact direction social media platforms need to follow to allow a safer environment for their users, especially when their targeted users are in their teen years,” says Zhao.
Some of the tough situations teens face are disregarded as a normal part of growing up, but according to Zhao, it’s important that parents don’t overlook signs of bullying. “Parents should really try to understand the situation their child is facing rather than brushing off cyberbullying as something that everyone faces. In addition, parents should also have basic understanding of their child’s online activities to make sure they’re participating in safe environments.” After School, for example, has parental controls built into the app to allow parents to password protect settings and access to the app if they wish to restrict access to the app. Zhao recommends that parents also view resources provided on EndCyberBullying.org.
More thoughts from David Zhao, Co-Founder of End to Cyber Bullying
- “Teens, parents, educators, and others can certainly take greater measures to educate themselves about cyberbullying, the ramifications of cyberbullying, and effective preventive measures against cyberbullying.”
- “We all need to take ownership of cyberbullying. We cannot simply expect a parent to make sure his/her child does not turn into a cyberbully or a victim.”
- “Each individual person can play a role by taking a step to minimize cyberbullying. Whether as a friend, a bystander, an educator, a boss, or a leader, EVERYONE can play a part, whether it be small or large, in this growing movement.”
- “Similar to prejudice and stereotypes, it’s very difficult to eradicate the action of bullying completely, but awareness and understanding are two key components in reducing the victims of bullying along with the consequences of being bullied.”
- “Many legislators believe that the laws are behind when it comes to crimes committed on Social Media. I don’t doubt that’s one component but it’s also the lack of awareness and understanding of cyber harassment from the public. I do believe many corporations are becoming more responsible with how they manage serious/urgent issues related to cyber-attacks.”
About After School
After School, a private social network built to create social change and enable communication among high school students, is the largest social network for teenagers. After School aims to improve the lives of users and their communities while providing an enjoyable and safe place to share with others.
Now serving millions of teenagers in over 75% of U.S. high schools, After School has turned the battle against cyberbullying and threats into industry-leading innovations that provide users with unique opportunities, including 24/7 access to live crisis counselors.