“I’m not going to tolerate it and neither should any of you”: Millie Bobby Brown responds to bullies after she was trolled

You may have seen her in Maroon 5’s latest music video Girls Like You, or gracing your screen in a few small roles on NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family. But chances are you probably know Millie Bobby Brown simply as 11 – the badass tween, wielding psychokinetic powers, as she fights monsters from another dimension.

Fresh out of the Upside Down, she carries herself with just as much grace and elegance off screen as she does on screen. But Millie Bobby Brown is just 14 years old. So the recent trolling of the actress with the #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown meme is, quite frankly, bullying.

Vox reported that the young actress briefly took down her Twitter account after trolls flooded her feed with story after story of how "homophobic", "Islamophobic" and "downright awful" the actress supposedly is. She has since reactivated her account. Just have a look at the memes, will you:

Really? Were you literally diagnosed with Aids after?

All of these tweets were clearly made up and completely absurd, because Millie Bobby Brown is a blessing in a buzzcut and 80s clothing. This year alone she’s raised $40 000 for the Olivia Hope Foundation – a childhood cancer foundation – and publicly supported the young voices standing up against gun laws in America. She even collaborated with Calvin Klein to design a denim outfit that listed the names of the 17 lives lost in the Parkland, Florida shooting – and wore it to accept her Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for favourite TV actress.

No surprises that she is the youngest person to make the TIME Most Influential Person list.

But as absurd and unbelievable as these tweets are, there are two things we need to take from this whole ordeal:

1. Millie Bobby Brown is still a minor and bullying her is not just wrong, it’s illegal

Bullying, including cyber bullying, is wrong and never okay. In fact, it’s so wrong that even minors can actually be charged for bullying others. As we’ve written before, according to Diana Schwarz, social media lawyer and a senior associate at Phukubje Pierce Masithela Attornets, “Children from the ages of 11 up until 18 are deemed legally liable for their actions.”

Russel Luck, technology attorney at SwiftTechLaw, says physical bullying should be distinguished from cyber bullying. "Cyber bullying is generally verbal and involves naming and shaming victims. The penalties for this range from civil charges of defamation, to criminal charges of crimen injuria, harassment and hate speech (and racism, a form of hate speech). 

“Physical bullying involves physical harm and therefore covers all the sanctions of cyber bullying, as well as civil and criminal liability for assault or even assault with intention to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH)."

But while that covers the consequences for the bully, what about that of the bullied?

Again, as silly as the whole meme seems, the repercussions are quite serious. It could lead to depression and anxiety, subsequent negative effects on one’s health, decreased academic performance or will to participate in other activities such as sports, lasting psychological effects and yes, even suicide.

Millie is just a minor but this situation could have gotten really ugly really quickly. At which point I’d also like to remind the media that while she’s fighting supernatural creatures onscreen, she is still just a young girl coming into her own. So even reporting on her personal life and telling the world she’s in a “serious” relationship, as the media has done in the past, is not okay. Let her live her life and go through all the motions, at her own pace, without constantly watching her every move or, in this case, attempting to drag her name through the mud. She is just 14 years old. She doesn’t need anyone believing she’s a bus driver who will run people over.

2. Kids shouldn’t take everything they see online seriously

Kids are young and impressionable, and they might not be able to tell the difference between a hijabi and a badly photoshopped image of Meghan Trainor in a purple headscarf. So encourage your kids to investigate before assuming that everything they see online is true. And you can help!

There are apps that do the investigating for you, such as Techpoint.ng, where you just upload the suspect image and the tech points out whether the image is original or doctored. Or you can go the old-fashion route and speak to a teacher or the parent of the child with the suspicious online reputation. They might not even be aware that their child is being bullied, which is exactly why you should probably intervene.

A message from Millie Bobby Brown:

While she hasn’t tweeted much lately, all of her past tweets have encouraged her followers to be kind and caring towards others. Her Twitter bio even says, “I want this account to share love and positivity. Let’s stop bullying.” And although she hasn’t responded to any Twitter trolls that jumped on the #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown bandwagon directly, she did address the monsters of the Twitterverse at the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards.

“Finally, since I know there are many young people watching this, and even to the adults too,” she jokes, “They could probably use the reminder that I was taught: If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say it. There should be no space in this world for bullying and I’m not going to tolerate it and neither should any of you.”

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Has your child been cyberbullied? How did you intervene and deal with the situation? Tell us by emailing chatback@parent24.com and we may publish it on the site. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous?

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