Every Child Deserves to Grow Up Unscarred by Their Youth!
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The foundation was formed in memory of Becca Mann Schmill by her loving family. We honor her life by advocating for and funding programs that reduce the occurrence and impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as sexual assault, cyberbullying and other social media harms,
and improve mental and substance use treatment.
Becca passed away on September 16, 2020 from an accidental drug overdose. She and a friend purchased drugs that, unknown to them, were laced with Fentanyl. Her friend survived, but barely.
Becca was a beautiful and caring person with a gift for making those around her feel loved and appreciated. She was funny, adventurous and determined. As a school friend said of Becca: “She managed to make those around her smile even when she wasn't in our presence.”
When she was 14 she traveled to Opatoro, Honduras as part of a medical brigade led by Community Health Partnership-Honduras - an experience that had a profound effect on her understanding of the world and her passion for social justice. No doubt Becca’s life pursuits would have centered around helping others.
But Becca's life changed drastically at 15, when she was raped by a boy she and her friends met through a social media chat. Becca's life began to spiral out of control, leading to her being cyberbullied by girls from the local high school. These traumas completely changed how Becca viewed herself and the world.
Childhood trauma physically compromises neural structure and function, rendering an individual susceptible to later cognitive deficits and mental illnesses including; depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorder. Unfortunately, mental illness and substance use are often stigmatized, further victimizing the victims. Also, treatments, particularly for adolescents and young adults, are underfunded and under researched compared to other chronic diseases.
By the time Becca was 17. she had started using illegal substances to dull her pain. With just a few clicks on her social media apps, she had access to anything she wanted.
Becca’s story calls attention to the vulnerabilities of adolescence, which are magnified in the age of social media. Today’s adolescents navigate a world that is far bigger, faster, and more chaotic than in the past. As a result, they are more anxious and depressed than in prior generations. Unfortunately, mental illness and substance use are often stigmatized, further victimizing the victims. And treatments, particularly for adolescents and young adults, are underfunded and under-researched, especially compared to other chronic diseases.
We started the Becca Schmill Foundation because we know that adolescents and young adults deserve better. They deserve laws and policies that protect them from harms that did not exist a decade ago. They deserve access to treatment that is trauma-informed and age appropriate. And, whether their struggles are due to trauma, genetics, poverty or another cause, they deserve compassion - not stigmatization - from their community.
The Becca Schmill Foundation’s primary objective is to prevent what happened to Becca from happening to other children - because we know that every child deserves to grow to adulthood, unscarred by their youth.
In 2022, we are partnering with the Boston Children's Hospital STRIPED Program on research related to the Mental Health impacts of social media on our youth. To support this initiative click HERE.
Depending on the study, between 1 in 3 & 1 in 7 girls are sexually assaulted by their 18th birthday.
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Approx. 37% of 12 to 17-year-olds are cyberbullied. Being bullied online, for so many to see is devastating for the victims.
TAKE ACTION: Protect children from the harm associated with some social media apps through common sense legislation.
Through legislation, the federal government could require all social media platforms to give access to third-party safety apps that could help protect our children. You can help make this happen by signing this PETITION.
Overdose deaths among ages 15 to 24reached almost 5,000 in the US. in 2019 (Note: This was prior to the pandemic).
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