Mount Gilead Middle School students are facing a new kind of bullying- its effects often worse than its traditional predecessor.
MGMS students Brady Mermann and Ethan Supplee recently conducted a survey of their peers and to their surprise, 23 percent of the 50 students surveyed said they were victims of cyberbullying.
Mermann and Supplee, along with their technology teacher Theresa Lyle, presented the causes and consequences of cyberbullying on middle school aged students to United Methodist Women at Trinity Church in Mount Gilead.
Lyle opened the program with background information on cyberbullying. It has become a problem with the increase in student presence on a number of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.
With more young people having cell phones with continual access to the internet, the problem has gotten worse.
Lyle noted that the middle school age group from seventh through ninth grade experiences the most cyberbullying.
The group talked about how cyberbullying on social media such as Facebook is one of the worst types of bullying. It isn’t physically violent, but it is most often anonymous and faceless.
The two eighth graders talked about how the many forms of media “can be a license to be harmful since it eliminates face-to-face contact.”
Mermann and Supplee told the story of a friend in school who was bullied on an App called “After School.” She went to the principal with the bullying comments. Since there was no way to trace who made these mean comments, the principal made the decision to take all the students cell phones away for the rest of the school year.
Supplee said one emphasis of the school’s anti-bullying program is to tell an adult. The cyberbullying pages are printed from the media platform; students are then encouraged to take the cyberbullying to a teacher or other adult. They will take it to the school counselor.
Lyle said the project aims to teach both the social and legal consequences of cyberbullying. She praised the eighth graders for their research in the subject both online and in interpreting their survey.
They surveyed how much time was spent on the Internet and the reasons for cyberbullying as well and were also surprised that a few students actually admitted to doing cyberbullying.
Lyle explained the program on cyberbullying at Mount Gilead Middle School is through a federally funded program called E-rate for schools and libraries. E-rate helps fund the availability of technology and learning through technology. This program on cyberbullying is through Learning.com. Among the topics covered are Cyber Awareness, Cyber Safety, Cyber Bullying and Netiquette.
Mermann and Supplee brought examples of posters they made to discourage bullying and encourage a positive environment at school. One poster example was, “Pulling someone down will never help you reach the top,” another was, “Beware what you share.”
Mount Gilead Middle School Technology Teacher, Theresa Lyle and students Ethan Supplee and Brady Mermann show some of the posters they made to discourage Cyberbullying.