Thompson describes how administration deals with continuing cyberbullying incidents

December 7, 2017 — by Allen Chen and Chelsea Leung

A recent online incident involving two sophomores is a reminder of how common cyberbullying is at SHS. (Because of privacy rules, the administration was not able to provide details about it other than to confirm that it occurred, and the students involved declined to comment.) Because cyberbullying has increased nationwide over recent years with the spread of social media, the Falcon talked to assistant principal Brian Thompson to learn more about the extent of problem on campus and what the administration is doing to combat it.


What is the administration doing to raise awareness about cyberbullying?

The administration goes into classrooms at the beginning of the year to give presentations. We have our health units in freshman year that are embedded in the curriculum, and our resource officer, Deputy Russell Davis, comes in and talks to the students. In the spring, he will be holding an evening event in which he invites parents and students to look at cyberbullying.


Is cyberbullying more prevalent among certain grades or demographics?

Cyberbullying comes across all grade levels and all genders. We’ve experienced incidents with all sorts of students throughout the years.


What methods do students use to hurt others online?

Social media as a whole is used. It’s not too often that people directly message others. When we do see issues, it’s generally on a larger scale; people have made second accounts or fake accounts, which is really dangerous because laws are changing and have more serious consequences for cyberbullying.


Is there a difference at our school between in-person and cyberbullying?

There are more cases of cyberbullying than actual physical bullying on campus by far. Although we do have to deal with in-person or verbal bullying, it’s much easier for an individual to sit behind a screen and send messages than to say something face to face.


What can students do when they encounter online harassment?

Our students can do a really great job of helping us understand cyberbullying. As administrators, we’re not spending our evenings at home looking through kids’ social media. The only time we have to do that is when a student comes in [to report an incident].


Do you feel that students are comfortable reporting incidents to the administration?

Some students are able to come in. I don’t think any student is ever comfortable when they’re faced with that situation. But the more we talk about it and understand that it’s a serious thing, the more students will feel encouraged to talk to us and know that their privacy will be respected.


What are the consequences for someone who is caught harassing another student online?

A student can receive up to five days of suspension. Depending on the situation, the student could also face expulsion. Police can also get involved, especially if you’re taking on fake identities. Bullies can get themselves into a lot of trouble, legally and with the school.