Bullying through online platforms - known as cyberbullying - has gained
increased national attention recently. Seventeen-year-old Amy reported on the issue for her school newspaper and shares tips to keep her and her peers safe online. And, teens from Granby High School participating in the Student Reporting Labs program share interviews they did with fellow students on the topic of bullying.
Why this Student Spoke Out
Bullying can have far-reaching consequences and severly impact those involved.
In recent years, social media networks and other fast-paced means of communication such as Facebook, Twitter and texting have skyrocketed and become part of daily life. However, Facebook isn’t always the safest place on the internet, especially for teens. Personal information is readily available, and others can see what you post.
A big problem that has arisen with Facebook, and other sites, is cyberbullying.
Bullying has happened in schools for years; there are always kids who enjoy harassing other students. Bullying used to be a face-to-face issue, but with the invention of social media networks the number of bullying reports in schools have increased exponentially.
“I think because they’re not looking at someone’s face and getting a reaction (It’s easier for them to say hurtful things),” said Nancy Hume, head guidance counselor at Buckeye Union High School.
“It’s stupid,” said senior Princess Waritay. “I feel like if you have low self-esteem and the best way you can prove your point is to hide behind a computer, it makes you less of a person, you don’t have any self-respect, and you need to find something else with to do with your free-time (or) find some help.”
Even though cyberbullying primarily comes from the home, schools are legally permitted to involve themselves in an issue if a student feels unsafe or if the bullying affects the learning environment.
“As far as school is concerned we have had probably four students (this year) suspended for threats and intimidation through Facebook,” said Pete June, BUHS assistant principal. “One of those people was arrested and facing criminal charges ... we had her charged on cyber bullying.”
June said it was a he said/she said case, and after they were told to stop, one of the girls posted on Facebook. It was printed it out, and the issue continued. The girls got into a fight at school, both girls were suspended, but the one who was still posting things was arrested. He went on to explain that while she was arrested because she started a fight, it was also for continuing to post threats on Facebook - that was a violation of not only district policy, but state and federal laws as well.
Another thing about cyber bullying is that if your name is tied to something then you can’t deny you posted it. A good example is the memes page on Facebook that...are in the news lately. The students who run it have their names tied to it openly, and when people submit pictures their names are also tied to it. This could be a problem for these students because right now these meme pages are borderline cyberbullying, especially when they name specific students in their meme. With cyberbullying, evidence can be printed out and used as evidence in court.
“It’s one thing when I say something to you verbally, because then it becomes a he said/she said, but it’s another thing when it’s posted online,” said Will Seward, assistant principal at BUHS. “That doesn’t go away. It’s in cyberspace somewhere, so that can be printed out and you can’t deny it. The other thing that’s come up ... is that everything is left up to interpretation, you didn’t intend it to be conceived as something bad but it can be interpreted that way.”
Social Safety: Internet Tips for Students:
If you don’t want your grandma or your pastor to see it, don’t post it
Don’t post personal information that makes it easy for others to find
you (such as Facebook’s location finder)
Use the highest privacy settings on Facebook
Don’t give out your Facebook password, even to friends
Ask your friends not to tag you in pictures; you might not want other
people seeing some of them
Before applying for college or a job, scour your Facebook for
information that could be harmful, or close your Facebook page
Never post your phone number publicly
Don’t accept friends that you don’t know
Remember that anything that you post on Facebook can be printed out
and used as evidence in a court case if you get in trouble
Above all, use your common sense about what you post online!