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'Idol' runner-up speaks out against cyber-bullying

Lauren Alaina, the 2011 "American Idol" runner-up, heard about the Easter Sunday suicide of Glenelg High School sophomore Grace McComas, 15, from a Twitter message.

Alaina, 17, of Georgia, said Sunday that she was saddened to hear about Grace, whose parents said she took her life after being cyber-bullied. Alaina helped the hashtag "blue4grace" trend online when the singer sent a personal message to her nearly 300,000 followers.

Blue was Grace's favorite color.

"It is horrible," Alaina said of Grace's death. "It is just so sad."

Alaina said she is not sure who reached out to tell her about Grace, but that person asked her to support Grace's family. Alaina wrote: "#blue4grace prayers to her family. It's horrible when the world loses young people."

Alaina said she was cyber-bullied before her fame on "Idol" — and even more so afterward.

"It is just really bad; people are just so mean," Alaina said.

Said Alaina: "You just have to ignore it, because responding and letting it get to you is what they want."

If the bullying gets really bad, she said, teens should delete their social media accounts. If the situation is painful, teens should "tell someone that can do something about it," she added.

Alaina recalled a situation from her time in a Georgia high school when a girl bullied and threatened another girl. One of the victim's friends printed out the messages and brought them to school. The bully got in a lot of trouble, Alaina said.

"I have insecurity problems like every teenage girl, but you have to work through them," Alaina said. "You have to accept yourself so everyone else can."

Cyber-bullying is "a waste of time," Alaina continued. "The only reason why people do it is because they are insecure. I think everyone needs to mind their own business."

Alaina called on teens to take action when someone is being harassed online.

"If you see it happening to other people, stand up for them," she said. "It is a horrible feeling to have people bashing you online."

ywenger@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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