BYU psychologist explains impact of controversial post on teen student-athlete

Feb 8, 2024, 8:03 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2024, 12:03 pm

PROVO — The parents of the 16-year-old girl at the center of a controversial social media post about her appearance told KSL they expect this situation will impact their daughter for some time.

Brigham Young University psychologist Tom Golightly explained what the teenager may be experiencing and how she and other student-athletes can heal from the ordeal.

“How many female high school basketball players are out there seeing this today?” Golightly asked.

The controversial post that has Utah State School Board member Natalie Cline facing condemnation and criticism from state leaders is gone from her Facebook page.

Lt. Gov. Henderson says school board member Cline’s actions ‘a new low,’ calls for resignation

“It’s not just something that we can leave there and forget about,” Golightly said.

Golightly said the impact of the pictures and comments is widespread, especially for young female student-athletes.

“Woah, they’re commenting on what she looks like. That means they’re probably looking at what I look like too,” Golightly said.

He counsels student-athletes at BYU. He said many of the young people he sees struggle with body image issues.

“Especially when we’re talking about an adult discussing the body of a minor,” Golightly said. “It feels kind of icky.”

In response to her original post, Cline apologized for the negative attention her post drew to innocent students and their families.

“Sorry for the impact, sorry people are thinking about this, but not real sorry that I said what I said,” Golightly added.

Wednesday night Al and Rachel van der Beek told KSL they were not satisfied with Cline’s Facebook apology. They said a situation like this warrants a public apology.

Golightly agreed.

“From the young woman’s standpoint, that would go a long way for her healing is to hear, ‘I put this on you and I’m really sorry about that and I want the world to know I’m sorry about that,’” he said.

Golightly said, that because of Cline’s post, this teenager no longer has the same sense of privacy and safety.

Her parents told KSL Cline posted unedited pictures of their daughter without consent.

“That person has to walk out that door and like, well, who does know — who doesn’t know,” Golightly added.

He said mean comments online can have major consequences.

“When we’re talking about this generation of high school students, we’re talking about almost one in five have suicidal thoughts at some point,” Golightly stated.

He said adults should lead by example, especially when on social media.

“We have to be very careful of what we’re doing and what we’re saying in regards to children online.”

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BYU psychologist explains impact of controversial post on teen student-athlete