‘I want this platform to continue and help young people so that whatever issues they face, they can raise. I want this platform to change people’s views and have the heart to say ‘Yes, this is an issue and we need to stop it’.” These are the aspirations of the spirited U-REPORT ambassador, Jonah Nori Bea.
The young man speaks with great fervor when he dives into the technicalities of the platform, “To become part of U-REPORT you text 747 join. You will receive some texts asking a few questions you need to answer and then you become a U-REPORTER. Whatever issues are affecting you, you can send through that platform.” It is clear that being part of the platform and its growth has had a great impact on Nori. “I joined this platform because it had young people in and because I saw it had a lot of the issues I myself had been involved in.”
This again emphasizes how much youth representation and ownership of an initiative naturally engages other youths and shifts perspectives.
A substantial part of the early U-REPORT stages was a series of workshops focused on online safety for children and the impacts of cyberbullying. Currently, cyber literacy is not part of the regular curricular in the Solomon Islands. For most U-REPORT participants, these workshops were a critical introduction to online safety as a concept and tool for an increasingly digital world.
“Being a part of U-REPORT has changed my life by teaching me things about online conduct. It has changed the way I use text online. I used to cyberbully and focus on sharing negative thoughts before I joined this program and after it really changed my mindset. Now I encourage positive thoughts online and have this push to stop cyberbullying and harassment. Cyberbullying is wrong. We all need to understand this and the fatal impacts it can have on people’s lives.”
Jonah’s determination becomes more prominent as he reflects on the challenges and progress of his U-REPORT journey to communities. ‘What I truly enjoyed was getting to know so many different youths and the issues they were facing, and seeing how we could help. Encouraging them in whatever small way was something I loved during this period of U-REPORT.” Even in the light of challenges, his spirit did not waver. “In the communities we visited, there were so many youths that wanted to join but could not because they did not have a phone to access the service. This made me really think about how we could ensure everyone could participate equally. I felt like I needed to find a way to make sure other youths without a phone could join the platform."
The lively youth wanted to close with a strong message to other youths “Please, have a look at U-REPORT. I hope you, young people continue to use this platform and please, to everyone, use our online network for good reasons.”
In his plea, it is clear to see cyber literacy and safety need to become household conversation.