HARRISBURG – Haiku Peters, a senior at Saegertown Junior-Senior High School is the 2021 winner of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Foundation’s “Stop Cyber Bullying” writing contest.
In selecting Peters as the Pennsylvania winner, judges commented, “Haiku’s entry was poignant and impactful. We liked how she included the poetic letter to a bully from their victim reminding them that ‘words they hold all power’ while ending her submission with the plea to ‘spread love, not hate.’”
Peters receives a $500 cash prize and certificate, which will be mailed this month. For the second year, the annual Student Keystone Media Awards luncheon where Stop Cyber Bullying winners are celebrated – along with other high school and college journalists – has been canceled due to pandemic restrictions.
Starting in 2020, the PNA Foundation, along with PNA and PNA member newspapers, partnered with AT&T to host a statewide “Stop Cyber Bullying” editorial writing contest to raise awareness about the dangers of cyberbullying. High school students were asked to write a column or editorial or produce a video that best explained, “Why cyberbullying is dangerous and should not be tolerated.”
Beginning last fall, PNA members hosted local contests and encouraged high school students to “write a wrong” through their words. A winner was recognized in each community and entered in the statewide contest, which drew dozens of entries from across the state.
Additional students were recognized with second- and third-place awards. Reilly Martin, of First Baptist Christian School, Butler, received second place honors, while LaWrynn Edwards, a Saegertown Junior-Senior High School ninth-grader, placed third. Martin was also recognized by The Butler Eagle. Martin and Edwards will receive cash awards of $250 and $150, respectively.
According to DoSomething.org, about 37 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have been bullied online and 30 percent have had it happen more than once. 95 percent of teens in the U.S. are online with a mobile device, making it the most common medium for cyberbullying.
Recognizing that online safety is needed for all, this contest encouraged positive change. Social media can be productive and helpful. But, words must be chosen wisely and with respect and compassion.