Cyber bullying hits the Tri-States
Wed, 20 Apr 2011 23:11:54 GMT —
UPDATED: April 22 at 9:50 a.m.
The conversation is heated on our Facebook page. Click here to go straight to the thread started overnight.
KHQA's Lindsey Boetsch is headed to Fort Madison Friday afternoon to discuss cyber bullying with a group of parents who say there is more to this story.
What questions would you ask those who posted in the controversial Facebook postings? Comment here or take it to the Facebook thread.
After two suicide attempts last week, parents in Fort Madison are now focused on a cyber bullying issue taking place on Facebook. Instead of writing words of sympathy, dozens of people are posting comments filled with hate and cruelty.
The issue of cyber bullying is hitting the Tri-State area and many communities don't know what to do.
"At first the hurtful things that were being said, it was disruptful to me. And the more I read, it concerned me and made me want to not only make sure this girl doesn't see these things that are said, but to make kids more aware that it's not right," said Amy French, a concerned parent in the Fort Madison School District.
"There were things telling her that next time she attempted suicide that she do it the right way or to make sure she gets the job done. There were several younger kids calling her names, horrible names. There were parents on the page saying she's 'nothing but just a memory.' That she screwed up and screwed up others' lives. Things that would make the girl feel horrible about herself," said French.
Below are examples of cyber bullying on the Facebook page in question. Far more comments are posted on the person's public profile, but were too vulgar for us to post.Stevie on Facebook wrote: "All of this is because of you. You worthless, obsessive c***." Sierra on Facebook wrote: "I'm not cyber bullying." But she then continues to write in her next post, "we all have reasons to hate on [this person]." Maria on Facebook wrote: "I hope this situation has opened your eyes so you can see just where you're ranked on his scale of importance."
Cyber bullying is a community-wide issue affecting kids, parents and the schools.
"I don't think they realize the impact it has on someone when you write those hurtful words," said Fort Madison High School Principal Benita Gonzales.
The Fort Madison School District is currently addressing this issue with its students. But there's no real policy in place to address cyber bullying.
"We're hoping to have something like that, an actual policy that will be in place soon, but right now, we haven't completed that. But it is something we are looking at and taking very seriously," said Gonzales.
So if you don't have a policy at the moment and something's going on now, how do you address it?
"What we do is investigate as best we can. We take a look at whatever it is we can get from students and make a plan," said Gonzales.
Are there penalties at this point?
"At this point, if its some type of school situation, then there's a disciplinary action, but if it's outside of school it's pretty difficult for us to make some kind of disciplinary decision for something," said Gonzales.
"I don't have an answer or know what to do, but when me or someone else calls the school district and police department and says this child is being bullied and I have proof and evidence, I don't think the answer should be there's nothing we can do. There should be a better answer," said French.
While the school decides on what action to take, parents are taking matters into their own hands.
"I think it ultimately comes down to the parent. I have a 13-year-old daughter who I just made delete her account, because I had no idea this could go on. It completely crosses the line and I don't ever want my kid to have to face that," said French.
She says the majority of parents she's spoken to about the issue are concerned, but the one's whose children have posted on this particular Facebook page are silent.
"They say it's "Kids being kids' or 'we don't want to be nosy parents," said French.
But where do you draw the line?
"I personally don't think people should be able to have a Facebook under a certain age. (Right now, you must be 13) And social media is making it easier for kids to be mean, to bully each other. It's easy with a message. People wouldn't be as mean face to face," said French.
Fort Madison High School's principal says her students participate in anti-bullying classes at the beginning of the school year. They also sign a compact agreement with their teachers and parents that addresses both harassment and bullying. Come next year, they will also be made to sign an anti-bullying pledge.
Click here to find more information online at the Cyberbullying Research Center.
What do you think about kids (and parents) using Facebook in this way? Take our poll and be sure to leave your comments below or go to our Facebook page to join in the heated conversation.