Photographer Refuses To Snap Bullies

bulliesPhotographer Jen McKen often takes senior portraits, dedicating a couple hours to capture the inner beauty of her clients at that critical moment of triumph and transition. Except sometimes those clients are a little short on inner beauty, in which case, they're coming no where near her lens.

When McKen stumbled on a Facebook page full of vicious comments from a few upcoming teenage customers, she emailed them to cancel their shoots.

"Realistically, I know by canceling their shoots it's not going to make them 'nicer people,'" she wrote on her blog, "but I refuse to let people like that represent my business."

McKen's story soon ricocheted through the airwaves, and struck a national nerve. Her Facebook page became flooded with thousands of comments, from former bullied children, mothers of bullied children, grandmothers, high school teachers, police officers, pediatricians, and general fans from coast to coast.

"It's such a warm feeling knowing people like you are still around," one commenter remarked.

"God bless you," said another.

Cyberbulling has become a serious issue in the past few years, particularly after ninth-grader Phoebe Prince hung herself in 2009, having endured months of psychological torture from her classmates.

What would you have done?
Cancelled the shoot88 (95.7%)
Done the shoot anyway4 (4.3%)

Texting and the internet have opened up new and more anonymous portals for children to say cruel things. Teachers and parents, however, have struggled to keep up with the new technologies. Online, bullying can be all the more invisible to the adult world.

But not to McKen, who not only spotted the abuse, but took action, at financial loss to herself. But McKen isn't immune to cyberbullying either. A few nasty comments have splashed across her page, mocking not only her decision, but her appearance too.

Thankfully, they're heavily outnumbered.



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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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