Kristin Bride sat alongside a photo of her son Carson during her testimony before a Senate committee on Tuesday.
“This is my son, Carson Bride, with the beautiful blue eyes, an amazing smile, and a great sense of humor who will be forever 16 years old,” said Bride.
Bride said it was a night in June of 2020 that seemed like a typical one for her family when tragedy suddenly struck.
“The next morning, I woke to complete shock and horror that Carson had hung himself in our garage while we slept,” said Bride.
Carson’s parents later discovered he had been cyberbullied on Snapchat.
His mother said his abusers used apps that let them hide their identities.
“After his death, we discovered that Carson had received nearly 100 negative, harassing, sexually explicit, and humiliating messages,” said Bride. “The last search on his phone before Carson ended his life was for hacks to find out the identities of his abusers.”
Bride testified that as parents, they thought they did everything right before Carson died.
“We waited until Carson was in eighth grade to give him his first cellphone. An old phone with no apps. We talked to our boys about online safety,” said Bride. “Carson followed these guidelines, yet tragedy still struck our family.”
Bride helped advocate for a law named after her son in their home state of Oregon, which requires school districts to notify parents about cyberbullying.
She also filed a class action lawsuit against several social media platforms.
Her focus now is on getting members of Congress to take federal action to help fix this problem.
“This is not a partisan issue,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). “It’s an issue that keeps parents up at night.”
“We have to do something and the sooner the better,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee pointed out there is no regulatory agency with the power to hold social media companies accountable if they aren’t doing enough to protect kids online.
There are proposals in Congress to change that, which have bipartisan support.
“It should not take grieving families filing lawsuits to hold this industry accountable for their dangerous and addictive product designs,” said Bride.
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