The invention of the Internet was a wonderful phenomenon. Who wouldn’t love a wealth of information that’s as far away as your fingertips and being able to communicate at the speed of light? Yet, with every good invention there is the possibility for it to do harm. And such is the case with cyberbullying.
I had a bully in high school, and I dreaded the one class we had together. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring. But once it did, I was safe…at least until it was time to go back the next day. However, now bullying can occur on your cell phone and within your social media accounts, making the bullying, the humiliation, and the audience of witnesses vast. It also makes the bullying seem like it is never-ending which only increases the devastation. Several teens have taken their own lives because of the stress and depression it can cause. I was happy to come across this pair of siblings, Lauren (19) and Victoria Coaxum (17), who decided that enough is enough and wanted to do something about it. They created the “Think Before You Type Campaign,” which later expanded into a nonprofit. Lauren and Victoria may be young but their desire to help arm others with the tools to stop the bullying supersedes their ages. Each month, they post a challenge or dare as they like to call it on their web site, www.tbytinc.org, and encourage others to do something to prevent cyberbulling, even if it is just to alter the own behaviors. They also post videos and interviews with amazing teens doing amazing things. These young ladies of faith even have a place on their site where people can put their prayer requests and they will pray for them. I am proud to feature them in this month’s This Good Woman section.
JH: What made you start your Think Before You Type Campaign? Who are you targeting with this campaign?
L&V: We started “Think Before You Type” because we saw our peers being cyberbullied on Twitter and we wanted to do something about it. We’re targeting all age groups with this nonprofit, but we really want to reach teens.
JH: How do you define cyberbullying?
L&V: We define cyberbullying as the use of electronic devices to put down or harass another person. Some examples of cyberbullying include threatening messages sent via text message or social media, mean posts on social media, or even the unwanted sharing of pictures in a hurtful manner.
JH: What do you hope to achieve with this campaign?
L&V: We started “Think Before You Type” almost three years ago and we’ve seen it grow into a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Our goal is to continue to raise awareness about cyberbullying, promote positive self-esteem, and encourage other young people to use the internet for good.
JH: Why did you decide to do the monthly challenges?
L&V: We decided to do TBYT Monthly Dares because we wanted show people how easy it can be to have a positive impact on others and we wanted to encourage them to join us.
JH: What kind of success have you had?
L&V: In the past couple of years of making our TBYT Dares, we’ve had some really great experiences. We’ve seen the people in our lives, supporters, and strangers reaching out and working to positively reach those around them. It’s been a great thing to witness and we can’t wait to see what the future will bring.
JH: You are both fairly young. What kind of careers do you hope to have and why?
Lauren : I want to be a doctor. I’m not exactly sure what kind yet, but I’m hoping to do something in pediatrics. This a job that I’ve wanted to have since I was really young, I really want to be able to help others. I’m currently a pre-med major at Marymount University.
Victoria: I also want to become a doctor, specifically a neurosurgeon. Just like Lauren said, I have always wanted to help people, and I have wanted to become a surgeon for as long as I can remember. I’m a high school senior and currently studying abroad in Indonesia.
JH: What can others do to support your campaign?
L&V: People can support our organization by checking us out online: tbytmedia.com and tbytinc.org. They can engage with us on social media, and contact us to find out more about the issues that we focus on and ways that they can volunteer their time to help us in our efforts.
I encourage you to connect with these young ladies and show them some love!