Lisa Ford Berry, of Carmichael, stood before an audience of concerned parents and educators last Wed. evening at Time Tested Books in Sacramento, to share some of the insights and lessons about the dangerous peer abuse issues for kids in the network that she learned in the aftermath of her son’s tragic suicide.
Her book, Be BRAVE, Say Something, Do Something was featured as a resource for parents and educators, and is being sold as a fundraiser for the peer abuse awareness and prevention non-profit she founded called, B.R.A.V.E Society. "I don’t want another family to experience the agony and pain our family has endured," Ford Berry said.
Ford Berry’s son, Michael, was cyberbullied so badly in 2008, he took his own life on his 17th birthday at the high school campus. And after watching her son leave for school that morning as any normal day, receiving the call from the hospital that Michael was in intensive care from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head, and then dealing with the funeral -- there was a deafening silence with a lingering question.
How could a child who had every advantage, a loving home, being an excellent student with great disposition and friends, take his own life in such a violent and public manner?
Ford Berry and her husband, Bob, reviewed all the texts, posts and emails and discovered that their son had been the target of a rumor that he was gay, and was then piled on by the student body. His friends were silent. And in the midst of this onslaught of horrific, homo-phobic harassment which streamed in unabated, she read his pleas to stop. She also learned that his attempts to get help from school administration were rebuffed.
Her son broke in the storm of isolation and hostility that did not end until he died.
This is the lesson of William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies, which explores how adolescent boys left alone on a deserted island experience the murderous nature that is the dark side of humanity. “Group think” is dangerous; it does not care about the individual. A child’s voice in the net is slaughtered by the crowd as the parents and educators are unaware, virtually absent.
Ford Berry closed her remarks with advice to parents. “If I could go back and do one thing differently,” she said, “It would be to check the mobile phones,” Ford Berry said.
For more about Be BRAVE, Do Something Say Something, go to: The power of being brave in a cyber powered world.
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