CEO of the Roadblock Foundation, model, actress and entrepreneur Bianca Peynado aims to empower the youth of yesterday to take a stand against hate online
Online bullying or cyberbullying uses technology to intimidate, threaten or upset someone. This can take place on social media, dating apps, text and even online games.
Nowadays, it is easier than ever to slip away after exerting any kind of verbal bullying into the digital universe. What’s worse is how the lack of consequence for negative behaviour plays an even more significant role in people’s mental wellbeing.
But if caught distributing hate crimes, harassment, stalking, threats of violence, the things we say can lead to serious criminal offences. Increased online use is leading to more cyberbullying. It’s not just teens who are being victimized but cyberbullying attacks include children, celebrities, and influencers.
However, the issue of cyberbullying is not new. The terrible problem is that it is still a significant constant in a world driven by digital technology.
From Facebook to now millions of apps, networks and communication networks, the idea for anyone looking to build up a hate crime case is slowly transforming into a ‘norm’. Even the people who bully are victims within themselves – yet nobody is willing to help those suffering in silence.
You see, most adults picture bullying as something that might go on during recess or lunch. Maybe one student pushes another in the hallway, or a group of kids tease a perceived “outsider.”
Whatever form it took, the bullying of our youth was usually easy to spot. However, today, young people are increasingly dealing with a different kind of bullying that isn’t easy to see.
As of January 2020, 44 per cent of all internet users in the U.S. said they had experienced online harassment. What’s most surprising is the primary age category being targeted lay between 10 and 18 years old. The likelihood of teens being cyberbullied has increased by 2 per cent as of 2022.
When Bianca Peynado was just 17-years-old, she experienced her encounters with cyber-bullies and felt empowered to be a part of the change to help others cope with the same struggles.
After attending a private Catholic school, a terrible situation went viral on Facebook, where different schools across Florida saw it. Peynado’s life changed forever.
That day she vowed to create a driving force that would help make a better future for young generations. “I wanted to be a spokesperson somehow and help people, specifically children, for the most part, but all generations,” she says.
The female entrepreneur’s catalyst came after seeing Monica Lewinsky speak at a women’s conference about online bullying.
Since then, the now Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of RoadBlock, an anti-cyberbullying non-profit organization, aspires to start a movement to overcome the atrocities caused by cyber-bullying.
Roadblock Foundation serves to combat and raises awareness of cyber-bullying to empower others to overcome bullying. They are building a support network in their society to improve the lives of others while creating a healthier online environment.
By sharing real-life stories of public figures who have been cyber-bullied, they are dedicated to helping the community and making the online environment a safer place for all.
Promoting and providing mentorship and guidance for youth who are going through or have survived cyber-bullying is something that means a lot to Peynado since “children need to be helped beyond all because they are the foundation of what society will be like; for years to come.”
Her aim is to create a safer and healthier online environment to heal the world of hate and instead build a community of love and kindness. The ambitious role model is currently working on empathy-based programs in schools and plans to partner with university PhD candidates writing their thesis statements, having them help with the Psychology Department in education.
By raising awareness for the recurring issue, Peynado also hopes to enlighten more generations by bringing out a docuseries interviewing celebrities and social media influencers on their struggles with online hate.
Bullying affects everyone, even those we perceive as ‘perfect’. “A lot of influencers and people in the public eye go through death threats. If it can happen to people who are beautiful, famous and wealthy, it can happen to anyone,” she says. “Hopefully, by raising awareness and making people feel more empowered, they can get out of it”.
Of all the social networks, kids on YouTube are the most likely to be cyberbullied at 79 per cent, followed by Snapchatat 69 per cent, TikTok at 64 per cent, and Facebook at 49 per cent.
Let the RoadBlock Foundation be the sign you need to stop and think, receive, share and support a community of people to take a stand against cyberbullying for good.
Michelle Laver – Writer