A play written and directed by an aspiring young writer from Rusholme delivered some hard-hitting messages about the consequences of cyber-bullying when it was performed by One Manchester’s Youth Network at The Place at Platt Lane in Fallowfield for Hate Crime Awareness Week.
‘Reputation Declined’ was written by 14-year-old Amayna Solaiman to raise awareness of issues around online bullying and hate crime and to encourage young people to consider the potential long-term consequences of their online footprints on their employment prospects.
Amayna, a Manchester Academy student, wrote the play for an online citizenship class at school but hadn’t had the opportunity to perform it until now. Having been a victim of bullying herself she hopes her writing will encourage young people going through similar struggles to get help and challenge the bullies to consider the potentially devastating impact of bullying on the victim and on the life chances of the people involved.
Amayna said: “I don’t think a lot of people my age realise what a huge impact what you say online can have. One person says something and then everybody comments and you don’t realise it can make a huge difference in the future. People see being online as a shield but what you might think is one little insult could be the end of your career because it stays there forever and future employers might research your past.”
Young people from Ladybarn Community Centre who watched the performance certainly took the messages on board. Tegan Farrell, 11, said: “We could relate to it more because it was children acting. It made you realise that you need to think about your actions because once you put something online you can't take it offline, so employers can see everything you’ve done when you go for jobs when you're older. It also showed you why you need to tell someone if you're being bullied and not just stay quiet."
Michelle Wright, One Manchester’s youth and opportunities coordinator who supported the young people to put on the performance, said: “We were really impressed when Amayna approached us with her script last year and so we’ve worked closely with her to help bring this play to life. Many of the young people involved have experienced bullying in one form or another, so getting involved in putting on this fantastic performance has given them an opportunity to use these experiences to help others by delivering some powerful messages to young people.”
Amayna said: “It was a real accomplishment for me; it’s not every day that a 14-year-old girl does something an adult would do. I feel proud of the actors, proud of the script and proud of myself.”