Administration defines rules on cyberbullying

October 14, 2010 — by Ashwini Velchamy

As technology becomes more prominent in our lives, school administrators face a major problem. The schoolyard bullies of the past are now online, becoming cyberbullies. Because this problem has emerged in the past few years, schools are still looking for the most effective way to deal with it while ensuring the safety and education of all involved.

“It is really sort of uncharted territory,” said principal Jeff Anderson.

SHS administrators say that only small number of incidents of this sort have occurred at the school.

“We have tried to be proactive on these and got to them before they became problems,” said Anderson. “We know it’s out there, but, fortunately, we haven’t seen it too much at Saratoga High.”

Anderson feels that the best way to solve the problem of cyberbullying is having the involved parties meet face to face.

“When you get wind of it, even if it turns out to be nothing, you need to address it. The parties need to be brought in to determine the level of seriousness,” said Anderson.

Guidance counselor Alinna Satake said it’s in the best interest of students to come and talk to an adult about any incidents.

“In the 21st century, people are still trying to figure out what is appropriate and what should go out on the Internet and on public sites,” said Satake. “It’s not good decision making. I guess someone might feel empowered by it, as well as the anonymity in doing it online versus getting into a fistfight with someone.”

Anderson agrees with this idea and stresses how important it is to tell parents or teachers if an issue arises, especially if it is online.

“If you know [cyberbullying] is going on, we really encourage you to come tell us,” said Anderson. “Don’t suffer in silence.”

Assistant principal Chris Cerbone said that victims of cyberbullies should save everything as evidence. He also said the administration will suspend students based on the degree of the cyberbullying. Law enforcement can also get called in because cyberbullying is a crime.

Cerbone believes the prevalence of new technologies, such as the Internet and cell phones, contributes to the increase in cyberbullying among teenagers.

“The age of the Internet and texting makes it easier for people to not face their victims,” said Cerbone. “It makes it easy for people to disrespect others.”

Cerbone added that the Internet has depersonalized everything.

“I think cyberbullies are cowards,” said Cerbone. “They sit behind a closed door and say things they’d never say in front of the person.”

Anderson offered some simple advice for preventing oneself from becoming a victim of cyberbullying.

“Don’t be a big texter,” said Anderson. “Talk to people face to face. Don’t do anything on the Internet that you don’t want on the cover of the San Jose Mercury News.”

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