Sheriff office's investigating cyber-bulling cases

CUMBERLAND COUNTY Authorities say bullies are targeting students on the popular social networking site Facebook.

Vernon Aldridge is the principal at Gray's Creek High School. Students at his school and Jack Britt High School have been accused of setting up Facebook pages that may have broken a state law against cyber-bullying.

The 2009 state law makes it illegal to intimidate or torment a minor online, including posting a fake profile or website.

"Bullying does not have to be anything physical," Sheriff's Spokesperson Debbie Tanna said. "It can be something mental, such as writing negative comments about a person on the internet, maybe telling someone's secret that they shouldn't be telling."

Aldridge, who has been an educator for 20 years, says while the incidents involving his students started off-campus, they can quickly become major problems at school.

"I was actually contacted by a former student by e-mail making me aware of these pages," he said. "So that's how I first got my knowledge of it. As soon as I found out about it what I tried to do is tried to get the pages shut down."

The Facebook pages have been shut down and the students who were targeted don't want to press charges, it's not stopping the investigation.

It is the sheriff office's first investigation of since the General Assembly passed the law against cyber-bullying.

Officials say it is a good opportunity for parents to have a long talk with their children about cyber-bullying and how it can get you in trouble with the law.

"It was a learning experience for our kids, because we had to sit down and educate our kids about the laws that are in place now," Aldridge said. "The biggest thing is to monitor their kids while they're online."

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