A US teenager who was bullied at school is fighting back with an app that helps lonely kids find friends to sit with at lunch time.
California high school student Natalie Hampton came up with the idea after she was bullied by her classmates.
“I was ostracised by everyone,” she told CBS. “I ate lunch alone every day.”
The bullying didn’t stop at isolation – it extended to physical violence.
“I was pushed into lockers, I was sent threatening emails. I was physically attacked three times in two weeks and I came home sobbing with bleeding red scratch marks.”
Life improved after Ms Hampton switched schools, but she never forgot the feeling of being left out.
“So many people walked back and forth in front of my table, and all I wanted to hear was ‘hey, are you OK? Come sit with us’,” she said.
Inspired by her desire to find like-minded friends, she created an app called ‘Sit With Us’, which connects students with groups of welcoming people at their school.
“If you go to the search tab, it gives you a whole list of the lunches that you can join in your school without any fear of rejection,” Ms Hampton said.
The app is free to download and private to use. It now has more than 100,000 users in eight different countries.
Ms Hampton says the global success of her invention has renewed her commitment to ending bullying in schools, as well as increased her belief in her own abilities.
“Using my story to help others has given me strength and confidence that I never knew that I had.”