CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, each are an avenue for bullies to continue their bullying ways outside the classroom. It's a fight school leaders admit they can't fight alone.
"Cyberbullying is when students use the internet to threaten or put down other students. Basically, they want to make students feel inferior," Western Branch principal John Sykes explained.
With some simple key strokes and creativity, bullies can track their victims online, continuing the abuse at home.
"The new websites like Facebook and MySpace have become the new site for bullying," Sykes continued.
John Sykes III is the principal at Western Branch High School in Chesapeake. He battles bullying everyday and admits its become a tougher fight now that bullying is happening more online.
"It does have the ability to impact the school environment and make students feel that they are not safe here and we're not going to have that. If I got one student at Western Branch who doesn't feel safe, then I got a problem and I need to solve that problem," Sykes said.
And it's with those words he and his parent volunteers are taking active roles in curbing this growing problem.
"Our PTSA has put on several programs, one on internet safety. The other program specifically for cyberbullying, we have specialists talk to parents. Another thing we've done, at last week's open house, I asked for the parents assistance in monitoring their child's use of the internet, specifically the social websites, because the social websites have become the forum students are using to bully now," Sykes said.
Most local school districts have "no tolerance" policies when it comes to any form of bullying and Mr. Sykes said he will act on any cyberbulling complaint and find those responsible.
"An electronic signature can be followed and tracked. And there are times that students are prosecuted. We also have a school resource officer who we involve in a lot of those cases if that needs to happen."
Sykes also says parents are the key, "If parents monitor their child's use of the internet, a lot of cyberbullying would not be a problem."
If you you're being bullied online you have to tell someone about it. Keeping it silent will only make the problem worse.
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