“Teacher Ming, do you have some time to talk with me? A girl from another school is bullying me online, and I want her to stop.”
Hwan, a rail-thin fourth-grade girl with a short ponytail on the top of her head, stood in front of the library of one of the government schools in the community where we teach English classes every week. Hwan clutched her smartphone in both hands.
“Can you show me the messages?” Teacher Ming asked.
Hwan opened the messaging app and handed her phone to Teacher Ming. Scanning through the text messages, it didn’t take long for Teacher Ming to sort out that Hwan and the other girl were fighting over a boy in Hwan’s class. The chat thread was laced with disturbingly vulgar language from both girls. Teacher Ming realized that Hwan wasn’t simply the innocent victim of online bullying, but the hurt and emotional turmoil was clearly apparent for both girls.
Teacher Ming sat and talked patiently with Hwan, asking her questions and providing insight that helped Hwan begin to relax and gain some perspective on the situation. Ming also explained to Hwan that the other girl sometimes comes to our learning center for tutoring after school. “If you would like, you can come to our learning center, and I can meet with you and the other girl together to talk about this situation.”
Hwan was reticent at first but said she would consider Teacher Ming’s suggestion.
Though we work in a poor farming community, most of the kids we teach and mentor have smartphones. However, their parents and caregivers, most of whom didn’t grow up with the same access to technology, are not aware of the dangers their children are exposed to each day through unrestricted access to the web and social media. This is another confirmation of the critical need in the community for education and mentoring programs like the ones we offer through our learning center.
Please consider partnering with us as we help prevent bullying and educate the children and youth we work with here in Thailand about how to use social media and technology wisely. We invite you to make a pledge of monthly support to our ministry to reach the unreached Isan people of northeast Thailand for Christ.