ReThink – Before the damage is done!

Trisha Prabhu
November 9, 2015

After another incredible year filled with hopes, dreams and the fruitful realities of immense hard work to stop cyberbullying before it happens, I’m more excited than ever to see what the future holds. My name is Trisha Prabhu; I’m 15 years old, and the founder of ReThink, anti-cyberbullying software. ReThink proactively stops hurtful messages before they are posted and provides a second chance for the cyberbully to stop, review and ReThink before sending a hurtful message, before the damage is done!

When I was invited to be a part of Coca Cola’s #makeithappy campaign to speak about ReThink for the Super Bowl 2015 earlier this year, I shared the stage with victims of cyberbullying that suffer everyday, silently, because they are too afraid to speak out. The statistics didn’t lie, and neither did these heartbreaking stories. It was clear – cyberbullying was a silent pandemic affecting millions around the globe, and I had to continue on my journey to eradicate it forever.

There are so many solutions out there to stop cyber bullying after the damage is done. Blocking the bully or reporting the abuse to adults or school authorities/law enforcement are important steps that victims are encouraged to take to help end the cyberbullying. Unfortunately, these solutions often do not work, due to the fact that nine out of ten cyberbullied teens do not tell anyone that they are suffering. When victims receive those hurtful messages, the damage is done, and suffering begins. Sadly, this is not short-term pain. Recent research from UK found out that the scars of repeated bullying and cyberbullying lasts well into victims’ 50s and 60s.

Why is that adolescents choose to post these detrimental, demeaning messages? Why don’t we recognize the consequences of our actions? The question has baffled parents and researchers alike. The answer, though, is linked to the brain. The adolescent brain is likened to a car with no brakes. No pausing. No thinking about consequences of an action. In the heat of the moment, at a point of peer-pressure, with a sense of urgency and desire to “fit in”, teens often say or do things they later regret.

Consider the Consequences Before Posting

ReThink helps adolescents consider the possible consequences of posting a hurtful message before posting that message. With a simple, non-intrusive alert, adolescents have an opportunity to pause, review, and rethink what it means to post that message, before they make their final decision. My internationally acclaimed, award-winning study presented at the Google Global Science Fair proved that with ReThink, over 93% of the time, adolescents changed their minds and decided not to post a hurtful message. The overall willingness to post hurtful messages dropped from 71% to just 4%.

Earlier this year, in the spring of 2015, when I was at the White House Science Fair, presenting ReThink to several dignitaries, businessmen and women, and law-makers, I realized that this was just start – there is still so much work to do to stop cyberbullying. I had the opportunity to have several conversations with lawmakers about importance of making legislative changes to consider cyberbullying front-and-center for schools and communities. As a We are Family Foundation Global Teen Leader for the Just Peace Summit this past spring, I had the opportunity to interact with some amazing mentors and turn some of my dreams into realities this summer.

ReThink as a Movement

ReThink is now available for both Android and iOS phones and tablets on the Google Play Store and on the App Store, respectively. It was an unforgettable moment when ReThink was officially launched, for free, and became available to millions around the world. Interest from communities, parents, law enforcement officials, teachers, principals, school psychologists, guidance counselors, and so many more has been overwhelming and humbling. ReThink has already been downloaded on thousands of devices and will soon be released in multiple languages.

ReThink is more than just a software solution – it is a mind-set, a movement, a call to action to help end a social issues plaguing so many of our young people everywhere. My goal is to have schools around the globe adopt the ReThink slogan as their campaign to combat cyberbullying and to have ReThink rolled out to schools communities around the world. I invite parents, teachers and school administrators to please help this cause by nominating student ambassadors from schools. These ambassadors will be trained to help influence their peers to “ReThink” before sending hurtful messages, before saying hurtful words.

The internet of things has changed our idea of communication and made it so much easier “to become friends” with anyone, anywhere. It’s given us a huge amount of power – and with great power comes immense responsibility. With ReThink we can stop cyberbullying- at the source, before the damage is done - and take a new step forward to a new beginning on social media.

Choose to Rethink. Rethink– before the damage is done.

Written by

Trisha Prabhu

Trisha Prabhu is a 19-year-old innovator, social entrepreneur, global advocate and inventor of ReThink™, a patented technology and an effective way to detect and stop online hate. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate education at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA.

In the fall of 2013, Trisha, then just 13 years old, read the shocking news story of Rebecca Sedwick's suicide. After being cyberbullied for over a year and a half, Rebecca, a 12-year-old girl from Florida, took her own life. As a victim of cyberbullying herself, Trisha was shocked, heartbroken, and outraged. Deeply moved to action by the silent pandemic of cyberbullying and passionate to end online hate, Trisha created the patented technology product ReThink™, that detects and stops online hate at the source, before the bullying occurs, before the damage is done. Her globally-acclaimed research has found that with ReThink, adolescents change their mind 93% of the time and decide not to post an offensive message.

As a CEO and social entrepreneur, Trisha has received world-wide acclaim in the business world. In 2016, President Obama and the U.S. State Department invited Trisha to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, to showcase her work and share her story with other entrepreneurs. Not long after, ReThink was featured on ABC's hit T.V. show, Shark Tank. In 2019, ReThink was the winner of Harvard University's President's Global Innovation Challenge & Harvard College's i3 entrepreneurial Challenge. Trisha is the first ever Harvard College freshman to win the Harvard University's President Innovation Grand Prize.

Trisha has also been honored with awards and recognition for her ingenuity in inventing, building, and launching ReThink. For her research and scientific inquiry, Trisha was named a 2014 Google Science Fair Global Finalist. She was awarded the 2016 MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) INSPIRE Aristotle Award, as well as the 2016 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Illinois High School Innovator Award. She has the esteemed distinction of showcasing and sharing her ReThink technology at the White House Science Fair at the invitation of President Obama.

For her advocacy, public service, and her commitment to leading an anti-cyberbullying movement, Trisha was selected as a 2015 Global Teen Leader by the We Are Family Foundation, conferred the 2016 WebMD Health Hero of the Year Prodigy Award, and received the Anti-Bullying Champion Award by the International Princess Diana Awards, the Global Anti-Bullying Hero Award from Auburn University, and the Upstander Legacy Celebration Award from the Tyler Clementi Foundation. She is also a proud recipient of several other awards, including the Daily Points of Light Honor, awarded by the George H. W. Bush Foundation for extraordinary social volunteering and service.

Trisha has also helped lead a rallying cry against online hate. To date, she has shared her vision and power of "ReThink" at 38 keynotes in 24 cities at platforms and stages including TED, TEDx, Wired, La Ciudad de Las Ideas, SAP, Girls Who Code, the Family Online Safety Institute, universities, schools, and more.

Outside of ReThink, Trisha is involved in a number of initiatives that are close to her heart. In 2017, she was elected Illinois's Youth Governor - the first female YMCA Youth and Government youth governor in 28 years. She's also an ardent supporter of empowering women in the entrepreneurial community. Whether volunteering her time to teach young women how to code at Girls Who Code, or leading SoGal Boston, a chapter of the SoGal movement, which is committed to ending the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, Trisha is working to inspire and support a generation of fierce, fearless leaders tackling the world's most important issues.