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Teen Takes On Twitter Bullies

We told you about how Twitter is planning to fight back against hate speech – and today we see that author JK Rowling is helping fans cope with bullying as well, but what about the rest of us? What about you?

That’s a question Matt Shankles asked himself after being a witness to and victim of bullying and the answer for him was pretty clear: do something. And we think you’ll like what he did.

When a student at Matt’s high school, Linn-Mar High, created an anonymous Twitter handle to blast students and publicly shame them, Matt countered by creating an anonymous account, @linn_mar_love to tweet words of kindness to other students.

Here are a few tweets you’ll find if you follow the account (and you should):

But that’s not all: Matt has spoken at the Safe Schools Advocacy Summit in Washington D.C. and served as co-president of a gay-straight alliance club called Spectrum.

Busy kid.

We caught up with Matt and asked him about his recent experiences.

The Safe Schools Advocacy Summit WAS awesome. I cried in Senator Harkin’s office, it was my first time really trying to tell my story. I love public speaking, the rush is part of it, but the thought that you can make a difference with a really good speech fascinates me!

We foresee many speeches in this young man’s future.

Matt is a rising Junior and very busy with advocacy work and worrying about everyone else. This made us wonder if anyone was worrying about him? And it turns out Matt does have someone close to him who he can go to for help. It’s another person who prefers to remain anonymous so we won’t be posting his name, but whoever he is – you’re awesome too.

What’s the Pay It Forward call to action for this post? Beyond helping draw attention to getting the Safe Schools Improvement Act passed, we like Matt’s request:

If I had one TO DO for readers, it would be to watch for bullying.. not just in schools, watch for it everywhere, all you have to do is open your eyes even for a minute and you can find it. When you find it, don’t be afraid to do something about it, be polite, don’t be rude, but really, you can do something. Anyone can.

So there you go. Will you do this?

(Bullied teen holding smartphone image from Shutterstock)

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