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'Teen Mom' Star Leah Messer Slams Trolls for 'Despicable' Comments About Daughter With Muscular Dystrophy

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What happened: “Teen Mom” star Leah Messer took to Instagram on Sunday to share a pair of photos with her daughter, Ali. Ali was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at 4 years old, a rare genetic disease that causes a loss of muscle and disability. Messer later revealed the sweet photos were met with “despicable” comments, which she called out on Twitter. “I’m sickened,” she said.

Let’s teach all of our kids that we are each born with unique differences that make us the beautiful individuals we are!!! — Leah Messer

We’ve been here before: People with disabilities often face hate online. Natalie Weaver, whose late daughter Sophia had facial differences due to Rett syndrome, faced vicious comments online. Weaver petitioned Instagram and other social media platforms to improve its reporting policies for hate speech toward people with disabilities. She was eventually successful, but that hasn’t stopped the harmful comments people face online.

The Frontlines: A white paper published by the Ruderman Family Foundation in 2019 tracked the impact cyberbullying has on young people with disabilities.

  • 33% of students with disabilities experienced cyberbullying in the past year, compared to 20% of their typical peers
  • Disabled students who experienced cyberbullying were more likely to experience depression
  • Students with disabilities who were cyberbullied were also more likely to report suicidal thoughts

A Mighty voice: Our community member, Emily Scherer, explained why cyberbullying can be so hurtful. “People need to understand that words hurt and can do some real damage. You never know what struggles the person on the other end of the computer may be facing. All people see is what is posted online, and that is it. You never really know what is going on in someone else’s life.” You can submit your first person story, too.

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From our community: 

Cyberbullying Made Me Feel Trapped

Add your voice: Join The Mighty’s Chat Space group by downloading our app or comment below.

Other things to know: If you or your child is facing cyberbullying, you’re not alone. Here’s some more insight from Mighty community members who have been there.

More helpful thinking: If you want to read more about Messer and Ali’s journey with muscular dystrophy, Messer shared the story in her book, “Hope, Grace & Faith.”

Header image via Leah Messer/Instagram

Originally published: May 26, 2020
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