Cyberbullying crackdown in Cedar City

Posted at 6:29 PM, Nov 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-15 23:41:20-05

CEDER CITY, Utah - School administrators at Canyon View High School are launching an attack against cyberbullying; close to a dozen students have already been targets, and police are even launching a criminal investigation.

Principal Rich Neilson said it’s an alarming trend, and even he’s been a target. And while it’s not a new concern for schools, he said in the past several months he’s had more and more students and parents contact him about relentless cyberbullying.

“The thing that I’m struggling with the most right now is the anonymous nature of things online,” Neilson said. “It is becoming more in the kids’ face 24/7, that’s their world, they live on technology, so as that evolves, it’s becoming more and more of an issue.”

The attacks are being made through social media (anonymous Facebook and Twitter accounts) and include rumors of sex with other students and using drugs and alcohol. It became such a concern, Neilson said he felt he needed to do something to start that dialogue again. He said that’s why he sent an email to parents, urging them to take a closer look at their children’s social media use.

“This is something that will never end, this discussion,” Neilson said. “It’s going to have to be a constant reminder.”

It’s been such a concern, school administrators are working with Cedar City police and the Iron County Attorney’s Office on a criminal investigation.

“There are things that are of a criminal nature,” said Canyon View High School resource officer Isaac Askeroth.  And that’s what the police department is interested in investigating. “We don’t want to see somebody make a bad choice because of these things that are being said online.”

Tips for engaging a dialogue with students on their social media use include:

• Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.

• Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern. Installing parental control filtering software or monitoring programs are one option for monitoring your child’s online behavior, but do not rely solely on these tools.

• Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.

• Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.

• Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.

• Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.