On an otherwise ordinary day two years ago, 13-year-old Trisha Prabhu sat down at her laptop to do homework when a news story about a fellow middle-schooler stopped her in her tracks: Rebecca Sedwick, a 12-year-old from Florida, had committed suicide after months of merciless cyberbullying. “It seemed unreal to me that this young girl had been pushed to a point where she decided her life wasn’t valuable,” says Trisha, now 15. “I decided I wanted to stand up for Rebecca and other kids who were suffering.”
That burst of inspiration became ReThink, a browser plug-in that triggers a pop-up alert to prevent cyberbullying. Let’s say you type “ugly shoes”—ReThink will detect those as hurtful words and prompt you to reconsider your comment. “I read that the adolescent brain is like a car with no brakes,” Trisha says. “It made me wonder what would happen if we were forced to think about the consequences of our words.”
Trisha camped out in the local library to code the basic software, then tested it out on hundreds of friends. It worked! “I found that 93 percent of the time, teens changed their minds,” Trisha explains.
But even if you can’t code, you can still help. Trisha shared her tips—because even the nicest people post words that could be misinterpreted.