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Local schools take action against cyber bullying

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According to statistics at bullingstatistic.org, over half of all adolescents and teens have been bullied online and over 25 percent of those young people have been bullied repeatedly. This issue can also be found among Galt students. According to Ron Rammer, principal at McCaffery Middle School, about five percent of his students have been cyber bullied even though the highest percentages can be found among high school students.

“If we are made aware of an incident, we try to download the messages, involve our school resource officer and parents,” Rammer said. “School consequences of varying degrees are given to the perpetrator. Administration and the school counselor try to keep an eye on the situation to make sure it does not continue.”

According to Donna Mayo-Whitlock, director of educational services for Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD), each year the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office speaks with eighth graders on cyber bullying and other internet issues. She said the most common websites where bullying occurs is on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.

However, Sarahah is growing in popularity and allows people to post anonymous messages, which according to an article on fortune.com have led to widespread reports of bullying. Another app called TBH (to be honest) is also becoming popular among young people. This one focuses on positive posts, but concerns about all these apps include the ability to allow people to see where you and your phone are located within a five-mile radius.

Principal Joe Saramago at Liberty Ranch High School said he’s also aware that cyber bullying goes on. He encourages students and their parents to alert him immediately if this becomes an issue.

“The course of action would be to do a thorough investigation and to apply appropriate school consequences based on the education code,” Saramago said. “We will also involve law enforcement any time there is a threat to one’s safety.”

Often young people keep these issues to themselves and are embarrassed to tell their parents. There are warning signs of cyber bullying found online on sites such as momsteam.com. These are the 10 warning signs to watch for in children:

  • A sudden loss of friends and avoidance of social situations
  • Feeling sick, stomachaches, or faking an illness
  • A change in eating habits, like skipping meals or binging
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Suddenly stops using their phone or computer
  • Appears nervous, jumpy, especially when the phone has a message or post
  • Angry or depressed
  • Withdrawn from usual friends and family members
  • Self destructive – talks about suicide, harms themself or runs away
  • Refuses to participate in activities they usually enjoy

Do not hesitate to get your child help when you see these signs. Don’t think “this too shall pass”; it can become serious very quickly.

According to Mayo-Whitlock, McCaffrey is launching an anti-bullying app called STOPit.

“This will allow students to anonymously report on an app on their phone any harmful or unsafe incidents, such as bullying that they may witness or experience,” Mayo-Whitlock said. “McCaffrey also has a counselor and a social worker to support students, both academically and social-emotionally. Not only do the counselors meet with students individually and in small groups but they also have an open door policy to address student issues as they arise.”

The website momsteam.com has recommendations for preventing cyber bullying.

  • Educate yourself about cyber bullying and talk to friends
  • Protect your password
  • Keep photos PG – Bullies can use your photos to make your life miserable
  • Pause before you post – consider your reputation before you post anything
  • Raise awareness by talking to friends and trusted adults
  • Set privacy controls – Restrict who can see your posts and information
  • Google yourself to see what’s online about you. Delete negative posts
  • Don’t open anything from someone you do not know
  • Don’t be a cyber bully – it will come back on you
  • Log out of all your accounts, especially when you’re on a public computer

The best way for parents to shut down bullying is to talk to your school principals should these problems arise for your child. Talk to your friends who also have children with cell phones. Make your children aware there are consequences to cyber bullying, both at school and with law enforcement.

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