Parents outraged about cyber-bullying

©AP

November 24, 2009 5:11:32 AM PST
ABC11 Eyewitness News is investigating a tip from an outraged parent that an entire Facebook group has been created as a way to bully a Triangle girl.The parent tells ABC11 that she was alarmed by what she found on her son's computer -- another middle school student inviting him to join a hateful group.

She says a girl at Martin Middle School in Raleigh is being targeted on Facebook. The group is called "I think (girl's name) is A Slut."

Members of the group are inviting kids at the school to join the cyber-bullying page and show they agree with the personal insult.

"We're taught that sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt you," said Liza Weidle with Western Wake I-Moms. "Well, words will hurt and they linger and last forever."

Parents say they wanted the group page taken down right away, but were not sure where to go.

Facebook takes e-mail complaints, but does not typically answer phone calls.

"I think Facebook should be very aware and very quick to shut these down," Weidle said. "It's very unfortunate there is not a phone number or a way to contact Facebook and say, hey, we need to stop this."

But even if the average internet user can't dial-up Facebook, the attorney general's office says they know how to get a hold of them quickly.

Officials say the AG gets about one call a week about inappropriate internet use. They say cyber-bullying in some cases is a violation of the state's cyber-stalking law, which carries misdemeanor penalties.

However, one mom went early Monday morning to Wake County schools to have them intervene. By the afternoon, a principal contacted parents of four students who joined the cyber-bullying page.

"We try to be proactive as we can," said Michael Evans with Wake Public Schools.

Wake County school officials say cyber-bullying falls into a gray area for them.

They say though the students involved attend Martin Middle School, they did not use school computers to access Facebook, since it is not allowed. They also say the school learning environment did not appear to be affected by the Facebook group page.

So the school said it had no obligation to intervene, according to a policy adopted by the school board just last week.

"It's not technically the purview of the school system for somebody to do something outside on Facebook, using their own computer," Evans said.

The school principal did note that three of the four students who joined the Facebook group had parents who have not been monitoring their children's internet use.

Those involved said that needs to change.

"You have to trust your child somewhat," Weidle said. "But if you start seeing some signs like the computer shutting down or the screens being clicked away, then you need to be on your child."

"It's not spying," Evans said. "It's keeping abreast of what your student is doing online and where they are going."

Send pictures | Classifieds | Report A Typo |  Send Tip |  Get Alerts
Most Popular  |  Follow abc11 on Twitter  |  abc11 on Facebook


Load Comments