NBHS condemns cyber bullies
Nome-Beltz Jr./Sr. High School Principal Jon Berkeley reported that there were three incidents of cyber bullying this year.
One incident took place on the social media platform Twitter this spring and the other two incidents were through the mobile app After School this fall.
Principal Berkeley told the Nome Nugget that the school is always encouraging students to be “responsible digital citizens,” and to use care and caution on any social media or Internet platform. “We tell them not to post anything or say anything online that they don’t want there forever,” said Berkeley.
Berkeley released an announcement to the Nome public on November 7. There have been no other public notifications.
Berkeley said that the school plans to have its counselors talk to classrooms about what cyber bullying means and what to do in certain situations.
He also expressed hopes that an Alaska State Trooper would be able to address students on the very real consequences of cyber bullying.
The Alaska State Trooper office in Nome told the Nome Nugget that for 85 percent of cyber bullying incidents, no crime is committed.
Trooper James Eyester said that most of the cyber bullies they receive reports on are just that: bullies.
“Most of them wouldn’t have the courage to say the things they write online in person,” said Eyester.
He said that for more serious threats online, if they happen in the city of Nome, the Nome Police Department would handle the case. If they happen in outlying villages, then the troopers would handle it.
Trooper Eyester suggested “the almighty block” in nearly all cases of cyber bullying. He said the best thing people can do is to block the phone number, email address, Facebook user, or other social media user that is being a bully. When things do get out of hand, there can be cases that would be considered criminal harassment in the first or second degree.
Or, in regards to school bullying, Alaska statute 14.33.200 states that each school district should “adopt a policy that prohibits the harassment, intimidation, or bullying of any student.” So for in-school cases, the school would handle the issue directly.
Principal Jon Berkeley said that for the two incidents this fall, those issues were handled directly through the platforms they occurred on. The post in question was removed and a formal complaint was made to the app developer.
Berkeley reported that the After School company was very responsive to their complaint, and said that they would add more monitors, both digital and human, to watch the Nome-Beltz After School account.
On the After School app, anyone can remove a post that is considered inappropriate, although only students are allowed to post to the app. They must confirm their student status via Facebook in order to access Nome-Beltz posts in the app. The After School app does come with parental controls. According to the After School website, “Parents can use After School’s custom controls to monitor or restrict their child’s use. They can do so by accessing the settings within their child’s app, and then password protecting app settings and overall access to the app.”
Berkeley said that a formal complaint was also made with the bullying incident on Twitter. Since Twitter posts may only be removed from the account that posted them, a formal complaint had to be made and approved by Twitter. Berkeley said Twitter was very responsive to the complaint and immediately removed the inappropriate post.
Berkeley wanted to remind students that “words have an affect on people,” and to be the responsible digital citizens he knows they are. He said that the staff and students are encouraged to report abusive posts immediately, so cyber bullies can be stopped before they cause too much damage.