Published: 16th January 2021
Stop the B: Here's how this sister duo is fighting one bully at a time with their online platform
Stop the B aims to raise awareness and educate people about bullying (online and offline) and its effects on young minds. We find out more
When Riddhi Oswal was just 14-years-old, she realised she was being bullied at her school (where?) for her ethnicity and personal beliefs. Even worse, the school didn't take any step to help her. Imagine how traumatic this could have been for a young child like her. Sadly, she isn't the only one — if we look closely at the statistics related to bullying over the years, we will be shocked how rampant and widespread it is. According to various studies and reports, 90 per cent of students in Classes 4 to 8 report being harassed or bullied, while more than 160,000 kids refuse to go to school each day for the fear of being bullied. However, Riddhi decided to fight back, which eventually led her to set up a unique anti-bullying campaign cum online community platform called Stop the B. Started recently, in December last year, Riddhi was also joined by her sister Vasundhara Oswal to take this initiative forward.
Stop the B aims to raise awareness and educate people about bullying (online and offline) and its effects on young minds. Apart from that, the duo's main objective is to encourage people to become active bystanders, to speak up and even intervene when they witness a problem. In a short span of time, the platform has garnered support from academics and experts in the US and Switzerland and a few well-known celebrities. "We are working with them to ensure that the data and infographics we share are backed by the latest and credible academic studies. In order to share Stop the B’s message with as many teenagers as possible, we are also supported by some fantastic, well-known celebrities. The former international footballer Ronaldinho recently shared a video and message in which he talks about the seriousness of bullying and demonstrated his support for Stop the B. It’s great to hear from people like Ronaldinho who want to highlight the things which we can all eventually do to help stop bullying. We wish to create awareness among bystanders to speak out when they see bullying (online or offline) as their voice could be the key element in stopping incidents of bullying from happening in the first place," explains Vasundhara.
Stop the B conducts social media giveaways such as the #activebystander giveaway and their most recent #makegood challenge to engage with a larger and younger audience. "In the #activebystander giveaway, we encouraged people to share their stories with us by creating artwork or videos about what being an active bystander means to them, and we had creative entries from across the globe. In our most recent challenge, we encouraged people to write a note or post a video reel apologising for a time when they think they might have upset someone or not done enough to stop bullying. The challenge was quite successful and the two winners chosen were rewarded up to 50 per cent of their tuition fees for school or college," adds the duo.
Now, 16 and 22 years, Riddhi and Vasundhara recall what Riddhi faced during her school days back in Europe. "I was mocked and taunted each day for ethnicity and personal beliefs and was eventually isolated. My parents and I approached my teachers and the school management, but they simply did not do anything to help, and things got worse. Ultimately the school even lowered my evaluation grades and shockingly thereafter cancelled my re-enrollment. This has also been recognised as a classic example of ‘double punishment’ of the victim by the school, by world-renowned academics and experts in the field of school violence and bullying. Even after I was thrown out of school, the bullying continued. The bullies began sharing mean posts about me on social media and online group chats. I had to leave those groups as well. Since then, I decided I had to do something so that other youngsters don't have to go through a similar ordeal. It has been observed that when an active bystander steps in, the bullying stops within 10 seconds 57 per cent of the time. That means more than half the bullying in the world could simply stop if kids speak out when they see something wrong being said or done," explains Riddhi.
Speaking about the importance of children being aware of bullying and its effects, the duo adds, "We think that as a society we should all be made more aware of what bullying is. By being able to identify and tackle bullying on the spot we are making our community (online and offline) a safer space to live in. By becoming more aware of our actions and the actions of others we can drastically reduce the consequential effects of bullying as well as anxiety, depression and even suicidal tendencies. It would do everyone good and potentially stop such things from happening."