The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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I Report to Make Facebook Safer
Leah Abreu-Negron

I first got onto Facebook when I was 14, three years ago. I loved how you could find someone by just typing in his or her name or type in a school name and see who went there. It seemed like a great way to make new friends or keep old ones.

At first, I spent four to six hours a day on Facebook, mostly messaging family and old or new friends. I liked being able to talk to my friends from home, because people were always fighting outside.

But you couldn’t get away from fighting even on Facebook. People posted videos of fights or kids being bullied, or shared someone’s photo without their permission, spreading bad rumors.

I always hated bullying. The first time someone bullied me I was 6. Every day at recess, one little boy would make me get on the ground. He would get on top of me and ride me like I was a horse. Kids laughed at me, and I felt humiliated. I did not tell my teacher because I thought that would make it worse.

I also did not tell either my birth or foster parents for a long time because I was scared. I did not know how they would react. Finally, one day, I told my birth father over the phone. He told me to defend myself by hitting the kid back. I did as I was told and I felt great after. I know fighting is not the answer but from that day, I did not let anyone bully me!

Bullying Online

Both my parents and my foster mother taught me that if someone lays a hand on you, you should hit that person, so that is what I do. However, Facebook is a different world; people do not fight with fists. Instead, they argue or make fun of people or spread rumors. Girls post half-naked pictures of themselves so tons of boys can “Like” them. However, that turns into bullying too because people start calling them hos.

Other girls’ nudity bothers me because it encourages males to speak to all girls in a disrespectful way, and I do not appreciate that. Plus, I think some girls are uploading these types of pictures because they do not get the right attention they want and need at home. So I feel sorry for them.

Facebook should be a safe place for people to just hang out and share pictures of where they’ve been. I noticed there was a “report” button on Facebook to report offensive or inappropriate posts to the site’s administrators. Facebook will take down any post that violates their terms, which include: You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user. You will not post content that is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

When I was 16, I started reporting. The first thing I reported was a video of a group of boys jumping a boy and making him strip. I had never seen something like this. I wanted to find the boys who did that and beat them up.

image by YC-Art Dept

I showed my foster mom Beatriz the video and she was disgusted too. I reported it because I felt it was the right thing to do.

After I reported the video, I got a response saying, “Thank you. Facebook will review your report.” Within an hour, the video was down. I felt good that I might have helped that boy by stopping the spread of the video.
Another thing I have reported is hate speech. I saw a picture of a dark-skinned black girl, and somebody had written a caption on the picture that said, “look at this black ass b-tch you cant even see her.” Then below that, other people commented “damn shorty is mad black smh [shaking my head] I feel bad for her.” I did not even know the girl or who originally posted this picture with a caption, but I did not like that the picture was being shared throughout Facebook with mean comments. I refused to sit at my computer and let that hate be shared to the whole world.

At times, I reach out to the victims on Facebook to let them know they are not alone, and that there are people like me who defend them. I also tell them, “You are beautiful inside and out. Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise.”

As I said before, girls posting naked pictures of themselves on Facebook hurts all girls, but sometimes I feel bad for the specific girl. Once I was looking through my news feed when I came across a collage of a girl. There was a topless picture of her, and text that said she was 13 and getting bullied at school because of this picture and that she tried to kill herself. There was also a picture of her on a hospital bed with an IV in her arm, and finally a picture of her with all her clothes on.

I thought, “What the hell is this?” Then I saw people’s comments: “That’s what she gets for acting like a ho”; “Look at our generation.”; “Who took this picture?” She didn’t get sympathy, just judgment. I saw from the huge number of “Shares” how many people had seen this. Then I saw there were lots of fake pages using her name and her pictures. I felt bad for the girl because it looked from the collage as if she really did try to commit suicide. I reported the photo. I would have written the girl something encouraging, but with all the fake pages, I didn’t know how I could find her.

By reporting things that are mean, I hope to stop future bullying. I would really like to see Facebook change because if people behaved better on Facebook, they might be nicer in real life.

Take Action

To report an offensive or hurtful post, you click on the page and then click on “Options,” and then “Report.” You will then be taken through a short series of multiple choice questions about the post and then you click on “Submit Report.”

Facebook has something called “community standards.” The ones that cover the things that make me mad are bullying and harassment; hate speech; and nudity and pornography. The video of the boy being made to strip was an example of bullying and harassment. To learn more, go to

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