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Schools say Facebook is haven for bullying

SATURDAY, FEB. 23, 2013

Training, campaigns target vicious posts

A Facebook page focusing on a Spokane high school turned vicious this week, prompting the school’s principal to issue a stern warning about possible legal action.

“I’m trying to make sure people understand how serious this is,” said Lewis and Clark High School Principal Shawn Jordan. He said his warning about legal action pertained to possible civil suits by individuals.

“Our young people still don’t understand the seriousness of what they say,” he said.

The Facebook page, LCHS Confessions, has been removed.

Lewis and Clark is the most recent of Spokane Public Schools’ high schools to deal with the issue.

“We know of two (Facebook pages) at North Central, one at Ferris, one at Shadle and one at LC,” said Kristy Mylroie, a district spokeswoman.

Lewis and Clark’s Facebook page had reached the point of bullying and harassment of some students, Jordan said.

“The creator was anonymous, as were most of the posts, but not all,” he said. “The more inappropriate comments were anonymous.”

The one connected to Ferris High School “started out as something innocent and snowballed into something more nasty … pretty caustic,” said Becky Wilkey, Ferris’ resource officer. “We had to do some investigating to find out who the administrator was and had them shut it down.”

She added, “It’s the easiest way for kids to bully others.”

Cyberbullying has become increasingly common among teens, and so have education and awareness campaigns in public schools.

“It’s a community issue in a school setting,” said Angela Jones, Spokane Public Schools director of employment and conciliation services.

Training is done annually for students and staff, Jones said. In some schools, there are student-led anti-bullying campaigns.

Lewis and Clark is starting one, Jordan said. “The theme around it will be around how bullying and harassment are inappropriate and we all have a responsibility to report it when we see or hear it.”

Wilkey said, “We take (bullying) really seriously. We are responsible for students’ safety, emotional and physical.”

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