An interview with Geneviève Beaulieu Pelletier, psychologist

Have you heard of the “J’EXPOSE” or phenomenon on TikTok? This recent trend has received attention in the press this summer and is likely to accelerate now that students are back to school. What is this new phenomenon exposing our young people to? How should we react? Geneviève Beaulieu Pelletier, a psychologist and professor affiliated with UQAM, provides some insight.

In recent months, many Quebec students have fallen victim to this phenomenon on the social network TikTok. As its name indicates, this trend aims to “expose” a young person through a video showing their photo and usually the name of their school. Some posts may highlight positive achievements, but, to the contrary, many are used to spread insults and forms of bullying that can sometimes be serious.

Bullying may not be a new phenomenon, but TikTok provides a new platform for it, explains Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, a psychologist and professor affiliated with UQAM.

These videos also attack the appearance or behaviour of certain young people with crude statements and insults such as “Exposed: the fattest cow” or “Exposed: the sluttiest girl in my school.”



Does TikTok generate these behaviours? Not really.

For all sorts of reasons, from time immemorial, certain people have been targeted more than others. And those who have belittled their peers, seeing it as a way to feel stronger or tougher, have always existed, too.

However, if articles written on the subject up to now are any indication, journalists have reported a greater number of female victims. Yet our expert adds a caveat, noting that there are still no precise studies and that no one knows what direction the phenomenon may take in the future.

However, we know that the goal is the same: to shame the person you are targeting. And on social media, it’s very easy because bullies don’t have to deal with the complexity of the schoolyard, with all the teachers, monitors, the principal and even other students who may come to the defence of their friend.

And this has extended beyond the school setting given that this school-related bullying is still occurring in the midst of summer vacation! One thing is sure: regardless of what group they belong to or what time of year it is, the victim feels the same emotion.

Whether it’s physical or social pain, we now know the same areas of the brain are affected.

⸺ Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier

So how can we raise young people’s awareness of this phenomenon?

Take an interest in TikTok

To really understand this phenomenon and prevent it, it’s important to understand the TikTok platform, which is very popular among young teens.


You also need to know that, for now anyhow, J’EXPOSE has rap music in the background, including the song Godo Godo by Fior 2 Bior. Maybe you could play it one evening. Your children might be pleasantly surprised and it could serve as a lead-in to a discussion of what’s happening. A nice way to start the discussion would be to explain that the artists have openly spoken out against their work being associated with this type of negative phenomenon.

Beyond the post itself, it is also important to raise young people’s awareness about the impact of comments left under the post and the number of likes, which can be very hurtful. Very often, young people who leave this type of comment fail to realize the full extent of their actions. Raising their awareness about the impact of these likes or comments could help reduce their number and virality. Similarly, asking your teen to “break the chain” by refusing to share the post and by systematically reporting these posts could help stop the phenomenon.

Help your child develop their critical mindset

Help your child develop their critical mindset

As you may have guessed, quite often insults are rooted in flat-out lies.

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which a teenage boy is turned down by a girl after asking her out on a date, explains our contributor. Out of anger or frustration, he may then post something completely false and degrading about her.

It is also possible that the facts exposed are partially true and that the young person in question was hiding them from their family and friends. This could have serious consequences on the young person’s life.

If your child is in this situation, wanting to punish or scold them for misconduct should not be your priority. That doesn’t mean you need to totally accept things that are against your values, but let them know that you can talk about it calmly at another time.

Despite your negative emotions related to this news, it is important to let your child know that you are still there to help them overcome their problems.

As parents, you need to have this deep conviction that it’s the relationship with your child that is fundamental, even though at times they engage in behaviour that you disapprove of.

⸺ Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier

Has your child been attacked? Take a break.

If your teen has been subjected to abuse on TikTok, ask them to take a break from the social network.

But make sure you don’t cut all their internet ties with significant friends, warns our contributor, adding that they are still important resources

And what about school? Would it be best to put it on hold, too?

It depends on the young person. If they feel strong and confident enough to go back right away, then it’s not a problem. But if they are shaken up and hurting to the point of refusing to, it might be better to step away from school, too. At least long enough to discuss the issue with the principal.

Finally, despite all this chaos, you should also know when to take a break to be able to assess the collateral damage experienced by the victim’s brothers and sisters, who may also feel deeply hurt.

I’d hate to be that person’s sister and have people making fun of me, too. ⸺ Laéla, 13 years old


Conversely, fast action should be taken to ensure the immediate protection of the young person. Never hesitate to demand that certain accounts belonging to the wrongdoers be closed or to inform the police.

By doing so, you’ll publicly reveal the only disgrace that should really be exposed!


Is your child concerned by this situation? Have them read this article 👉 Cyber harassment and cyberbullying

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