Mo'ne Davis offers forgiveness as response to cyberbullies

The famed little league pitcher is addressing obscene Twitter name-calling with outright forgiveness for a cyberbully. 

Scott Roth/Invision/AP/FILE
Mo'ne Davis attends the 2015 Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Madison Square Garden in New York on February 13. The Disney Channel says development is under way on a biographical film titled "Throw Like Mo," about the 13-year-old sensation who made history as the first girl to pitch a shutout in the 2014 Little League World Series.

Mo’ne Davis has welcomed her share of publicity in the last year, mostly for her skills on the pitcher’s mound. Now the young athlete is offering her own approach to cyberbullies by extending forgiveness to a college student who called her an obscene name on Twitter.

Mo’ne is best known as one of the best pitchers in Little League baseball, making history during the 2014 Little League World Series as the first girl to pitch a shutout in series history.

Last week, as Disney announced plans to create a movie based on her life, a college student from Bloomsberg University took to Twitter to share his feelings, calling her an obscene name in a rant about her role on the field.

Twitter seems to be the social media platform of choice for people spouting off insults. 

Another famous pitcher, retired MLB star Curt Schilling, recently defended his daughter against online bullies on Twitter who threatened violence against her. The threats, as well as obscene name-calling, were in response to a tweet by Mr. Schillng announcing his daughter's acceptance to college. 

In that instance, Schilling used his online fanbase to track down and name the two most offensive attackers, publicly shaming them and potentially causing them irreparable career and educational damage.

Similarly, actress Ashley Judd made headlines last week when she talked about importance of addressing cyberbullies, especially those who perpetuate acceptance of sexual violence against women through their words. Ms. Judd was attacked online after posting a tweet during an NCAA basketball game about her alma mater, University of Kentucky. Judd has aimed at turning her attacks into a deeper discussion about disarming cyberbullies and not allowing sexism to flourish online.

Now Mo’ne Davis is offering a third approach, outright forgiveness after an online attack. 

It was reported Monday that Mo’ne and her coach approached Bloomsberg University and asked that it reinstate the student baseball player who posted the offensive tweet. 

According to reports, the university says that the player's actions were against the student athlete code of conduct. Prior to deleting his Twitter account, the student asked forgiveness and recognized that his vulgarity online was inappropriate. In response to Mo’ne’s request, the university has said it will remain firm in its decision.

There are many more benefits to forgiveness than to holding a grudge or counter-attacks. Practicing forgiveness can reduce anxiety and raise self-esteem. For a young athlete like Mo’ne, and other teens who are interacting in an increasingly connected world, these attributes alone are worth mustering up the forgiveness of others, even when being attacked on such a public forum as Twitter. 

Holding a grudge, on the other hand, can put pressure on other relationships in your life. Any pitcher worth their salt will tell you that carrying the baggage of bitterness and aggression won’t help their game.

When it comes to teaching kids about forgiveness, Mo’ne serves as a good example, especially for teens who have felt attacked online. In a Psychology Today article about teaching kids forgiveness, child development expert Maureen Healy offers five steps for making sure forgiveness is sincere: Acknowledge what happened, Experience your feelings, Communicate what you want to forgive, Forgive by stating you don’t want to carry anger, and Release frustration you may feel from being wronged.

While the intricacies of online bullying are complex and might not always lend themselves to victims offering forgiveness as the only response, the idea of offering forgiveness offers one potential step in addressing inappropriate behavior and putting an end to it.

As the great Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” The baseball great might not have expected this wisdom to apply the age of Twitter, but Mo’ne actions have exemplified how hate speech can take form in a connected world. Good thing she used the wisdom of an old pro in dealing with online bullies.

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