July 17th, 2011 13:23 EST
Emily Osment & Kay Panabaker in the Ripped-from-the-Headlines 'Cyberbully'
Despite the news reports about teenagers committing suicide -- Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts and Megan Meier in Missouri are just two -- as a result of cyberbulling, not all states have enacted laws to make it a crime. After watching tonight`s premiere of ABC Family`s well-told Cyberbully TV movie, the remaining states may want to jump on the bandwagon.
Cyberbully is the fictional story of Taylor Hillridge (Emily Osment), a teenage girl who falls victim to online bullying, and the cost it has on her and her family as it spirals out of control.
"Taylor comes from a broken home and is extremely insecure, and for some reason the girls at school say she is the girl to pick on," Osment explains the story. "She is targeted for absolutely no reason. She`s picked on at school and picked on online."
The consequences of all the hateful attention pushes Taylor into a downward spiral, making her afraid to attend school and, actually, develop self-loathing.
"My character is completely tormented and it`s very sad," Osment says. "The movie is about the way to handle cyberbullying and maybe the way not to handle it."
In Cyberbully, the problem begins with an innocent prank on the part of Taylor`s brother, who hacks into her social website page and changes her status. That is when the hurtful comments start. But instead of taking her page down, Taylor, who just wants to fit in, keeps it up, even when her mother (Kelly Rowan) insists she remove it.
In real life, both Osment and Kay Panabaker, who plays her best friend Samantha, have to deal with Twitter and Facebook.
"Through twitter you put yourself out there and people think having such instant access to you, they can say whatever they want," Panabaker says. "A lot of the times it is positive, and people want to talk to because they are a fan, but there are those other people that want to make you feel bad to make themselves feel better."
Osment adds that having a good sense of who you are helps. And maybe mother still knows best?
"I have people who I trust and will tell me when something isn`t right," she says. "Like my mom will say, `Don`t wear that dress,` so I change, and I trust that. But I wouldn`t ask my Twitter followers if this dress make my butt look big, I would ask people that I know so I don`t let it affect me personally."
And Panabaker, too, still listens to her mother`s advice, saying, "My mom always taught me that you need to present yourself privately, as you would publicly, so if you wouldn`t say the things you are saying online to that person`s face, don`t say them. And if you can`t help yourself, remove yourself from the temptation and take yourself off line."
Cyberbully airs tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.