How Should Schools Handle Cyberbullying?

NY Times:

How Should Schools Handle Cyberbullying?

The girl’s parents, wild with outrage and fear, showed the principal the text messages: a dozen shocking, sexually explicit threats, sent to their daughter the previous Saturday night from the cellphone of a 12-year-old boy. Both children were sixth graders at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J.

Punish him, insisted the parents.

“I said, ‘This occurred out of school, on a weekend,’ ” recalled the principal, Tony Orsini. “We can’t discipline him.”

Had they contacted the boy’s family, he asked.
Too awkward, they replied. The fathers coach sports together.

What about the police, Mr. Orsini asked.
A criminal investigation would be protracted, the parents had decided, its outcome uncertain. They wanted immediate action.

They pleaded: “Help us.”

I think the school is entirely correct. I’m sure they have their hands full trying to monitor what goes on in school during school hours.
As for the parents who think it’s “too awkward” to confront the boy’s parents – Epic FAIL. A police investigation takes time? welcome to reality.

“Help us” = handle this messy situation for us even though it’s really our responsibility.

Change the girl’s phone number and tell her if she gives it out to the world then this is what’s going to happen.

Or - take away her text capability. I don’t see this as punishing her, but protecting her. Would these boys really say these things directly to her face? If they do then you have good old fashioned bulling and perhaps someone would actually DO something about them.

I do agree though - her parents are being total wimps. When I was horribly bullied by a girl in junior high school my parents called hers and demanded they come to our house for a meeting. We all sat in the living room - the other girl (typically a hard core tomboy) was dressed up like a little angel, and her parents sat on my living room couch and listened to my dad lay down the law. No more bullying. It worked, she never bothered me again. Aside from sideways looks, but that was about it. Then again this was the late 1970’s - I don’t think most parents are as involved with their kids (even the bullies) as they were then.


I agree with the school.
We had something similar happen to my daughter recently. She had a falling out with a friend who became friends with another girl who has always hated my daughter. She wrote bad things about my daughter on Facebook. My daughter wrote ONE thing that was in defense of herself. The 1st girl’s mom saw it & started screaming cyber bully! about my daughter. She went to the school with it! It didnt happen at school, our girls were on the same softball team & she told other people, but not me. I found out from a mom on a team we played against, the 1st girl’s mom was mere feet from me & didnt say a word. I walked up to her & introduced myself & apologized for whatever happened & can we talk. She said No, she didnt want to talk with ME about it, she wanted the school to deal with it. Confused, I told her that I would handle it with my daughter. She told me that she wanted her suspended from school! She said again that she didnt want to talk to me but that she wanted to “handle it through the school”. I walked away puzzled.
I went to her school on that Monday and talked to the Vice Principal who was as shocked as I was that she wanted her suspended. The mother had come in the previous week to complain about my daughter & he talked to all the girls involved. HE realized right away that it was more of the girl who has always hated my daughter, being a ringleader & stirring up all kinds of hate & discontent. He told the 1st girl’s mom this & she didnt see it that way, she wanted MY daughter & ONLY my daughter punished for this comment on FB “you dont write your funny status yourself, you get it from (website) & pretend you wrote it”
THAT is what she called cyberbullying!
The ringleader girl made fun of my daughter for being a tall, solid girl, getting some others to bring her fatty snack foods to taunt her about being “fat” about not having as much money as the other kids (all officer kids, we are enlisted military) etc, etc. She did it both online & in person as well as behind her back.
I think it goes to show how childish some parents can be. I wanted to show the girls an example of adults coming together to solve a problem, like grown ups, instead I got, Im not talking to you, I will only talk through a 3rd party because its not something I want to deal with one on one!
As it turned out, as I told her it probably would, she found out the whole story & the girls are back to being friendly, if not actual friends. The vice principal & I both said that this is girls being girls, they do that at 13, it is nothing to get crazy about, get kicked out of school over, nothing. I want my kids to learn to handle some of this themselves so they learn how & dont end up like that mother, 40 & cant handle a conversation that is awkward.

Can you disable text? They definitely don’t have to get her the latest phone.

I have the world’s cheapest cell phone, basically for emergencies like “Honey, what was I supposed to pick up on the way home?”

Get your kids one of those and tell their friends what tyrants Mom & Dad are – “Plus they’re always snooping on my Facebook page!”
You’re supposed to be a tyrant, not your kid’s BBF.

it’s not the school’s responsibility nor do they have the ability to stop bullying except for banning access to email, social networking, text in class, and other websites that can be used maliciously - which most do.

Lizaanne, your story about thow your parents stopped your bullying was great. I was not fortunate enough to have parents who were that involved or cared that much.

Because of this, I try to keep an eye out for the kids who may not be getting that support at home.

Cyberbullying is starting to become a very serious problem. Children used to be able to escape bullying by going home, now it follows them. Links to websites created on google that call them horrible names, threatening and insulting text messages, not to mention IMs and emails that follow them around. You could theoretically take all of these away from the child, but in this day and age that leaves them isolated (just look at all of us on these forums!)

Because of the bombardment, they are tormented in horrible ways. Even if the email, phone, and computer is removed, there is still going to school the next day. Rumors that used to take weeks or even months to spread can be sent to an entire school with a click of the button. They may not see the site, but they have classmates who have. You can also bet there are kids t school all too willing to show them the website at school ad inform them that everyone in the school knows that they are a so-and-so or whatever. This is why we are seeing student starting to take their own lives over these issues.

No, the school can’t stop it. All the school can do is try its best to create a culture of anti-bullying. Reports show that most students want to stand up for their peers but are too scared. Schools need to empower these students to stand up for what is right and not let their classmates be victimized. It’s also something we all have to do at home. In this age of communication, we need to be looking after the vulnerable. We can’t hold anyone but the bullies and those who help them responsible, but we all need to take a stand and create a culture of anti-bullying.

I agree. This is actually a Biblical principle - talk to the person who is bothering you, first. Then, if that doesn’t work, take some friends with you and talk to them again. Only if that doesn’t work, do you start involving people in authority.

This is also Common Law, as well as common sense. The accused has the right to discuss the situation with his accuser, and come to an agreement before the law gets involved.

Unfortunately schools are cesspools of bullying. Take your child away from such place for home-schooling. And of course change phone-numbers etc. It is also important to tell the victim that he/she has not done anything wrong or dirty, but bullies are.

I don’t see this so much as a responsibility for the schools but as an opportunity for them and the parents to get involved. The information about what is happening between their students is out there in black and white. The inner thoughts of the students who normally might clam up when faced with authority are fully revealed.

Principals and teachers have been specifically trained for up to 4 to 8 years to deal with these kinds of things. It is not as if what is happening on Faebook does not have any bearing as to what is happening in the playgrounds either.

If the young ones want to talk about sexually explicit things, then the school now has an opportunity to listen and provide the necessary guidance as to what the consequences are going to be. What was once seen as bravado may now become downright embarrassing for the little brats.

By all means, the parents ought to involve the schools. Good educators would be more than happy to give their expertise.

I totally agree with this - if it were not for being in school together, these kids would probably never know each other. Their common link IS school, and if the kid is being bullied outside the school you can bet it’s not stopping at the school house doors. I would think that a principal would WANT to know when something like this is happening with his/her students so that they are sure it does not travel with them to school and interrupt the learning environment for them or others.

It is ridiculous to say that school is not a part of a child’s life when they step outside the doors of the building. I may be long gone from school, but it was pretty much my entire life when I was there.


So true. Cyberbullying is just really at its beginnings I believe, its going to get much worse before it gets better. The more people that can be brought in to address the issue the better.

But let’s face it, part of the problem is that parents have no idea what kids are doing online and there have even been cases where the parents themselves have become involved with cyberbullying. If the parents can’t act like adults, why should we expect the kids to act any better? And in this particular case, they didn’t want to talk to the other parent because of the situation it might cause with the parent being a coach,but they didn’t stop to think going to the principal and demanding punishment wouldn’t cause the exact same effect? If anything it seemed to make it worse because something that could have been worked out between a few families became an overall school situation.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit