Mowat Middle Keeps Cyberbullying Off Campus

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Before social media, bullying was usually confined to school.

Now, it follows victims everywhere; and because social media makes cyber bullying easier, Bay District School officials say more kids are doing it.

The web site estimates more than half of the nation's children have reported being bullied.

Mowat Middle School staff members say they're working to keep harassment off campus.

"We encourage all of our students to let us know if they are being bullied in any way shape or form," said Angela Reese, Mowatt Administration Assistant.

District school officials encourage students to report incidents though the Bay District School smart phone app.

Reese said, "We have a tip line on that where parents or students can anonymously report, whether it be cyber bullying or face-to-face bullying, and that information is directly texted to the administrative staff so that it can be dealt with immediately."

Also for the first time this year, Mowat staff is offering peer counselors.

"They come to us because they don't feel comfortable coming to an adult," said Jacob Hill a peer counselor at Mowat Middle School.

Hill is just one of the 20 students serving as a counselor.

He said, "Many social networks provide tools that help them address the problem, like you can delete a person's comments or straight up block them, but there are some cases that if where it goes on too long they do have to eventually go to the administrator."

That's when facility members like Reese take over.

Reese helps parents identify signs your child might be a cyberbullying victim.

She says, "If students are spending an excessive amount of time online. If they see that their student is becoming withdrawn, they don't want to go to school, they are frequently sick, you might want might want to take a look at what's going on."

As for the bullies, they can face serious school discipline, even arrest.

"What students don't understand is once the law gets involved, these students can be convicted of a crime they can go to D.J.J. for this," said Reese.

However, parents can act before is reaches that point.

Experts say parents can take away cell phones or restrict computer access.

Reese says, "We encourage our parents to make sure that the privacy setting are set for all of their students. Save the texts, save the emails, snap a picture of the facebook page."

Facebook, Twitter and a site called ASKFM, which allows people to anonymously ask questions to others, are the most common sites for cyberbullying.

Despite all the flaws, students find value in social media for sharing and connecting with friends. Officials hope fellow students will begin to stand up for each other and end bullying all together.

To download the app go to you smart phone app store and download the "Bay District Schools' app. From there find your school and find the link at the bottom of the page.