Hometown: Niceville, Florida
The Fortified Project
Social media is the largest communication platform that we have ever seen. Almost every teen you know uses social media daily. The most common platform among female teenagers is Instagram. We know young girls love Instagram -- it is fun to post pictures and talk to friends online. But something some of us might not know is that highly skilled predators use social media to groom, harass, exploit, and abuse girls. This is not a rare occurrence. I polled over 500 girls and asked them this question “If you had an Instagram while you were under 18 years old, did you ever receive explicit, scary, or grooming type messages from older guys?” 80% said yes. Most likely, your daughter or little sister has also received these messages. I created this project because I was one of those girls who constantly received messages from grown men asking for nudes, asking if they could be my friend, offering modeling jobs, and begging me to let them be my sugar daddy. These messages lead to human trafficking, abuse, abduction, assault, self-confidence issues, feelings of shame or guilt, and fear.
This project is the accumulation of slowly learning over the course of years how prevalent online abuse is and how ill-equipped girls are on how to spot and handle these hard situations. This project is made to educate girls on the signs of online abuse and how to handle those situations through a social media presence. We want to teach every girl how to be safe, know the signs of grooming, spread that education, and feel empowered and strong so that when this abuse happens, they can fight against it. Our project is entirely created to attract young viewers, so our branding from the very start was centered on making it aesthetic so that these girls will actually want to follow our page. We share information in a quick, easy-to-digest format so that these girls don’t have to read a 30-page research study to know what’s going on. Our verbal and visible communication style is professional yet comfortable, we want it to feel like you’re talking to your big sister when you talk to us. Our website has tons of resources for girls and the grown-ups in their lives, we have a blog that is all about building strong young girls so we write about eating disorders, problems at home, bullying, and more, our website also has a store where you can buy items to support the cause, you can find petitions to sign, and free educational posters. We hope The Fortified Project grows into a community of girls who can gather and care for each other and to ultimately stop online abuse from running rampant.