Bullying: Behind the Screen

Bullying has been around for years, but one Texoma grandmother is concerned it is getting worse.

Recently her granddaughter was bullied beyond the hallways at the middle school she goes to.  It all happened online.  An account on instagram is where it happened, but the account has been deleted.  However, another account has popped up to take its place.

School officials were contacted about the issue, but there wasn't much they could do.  Her grandmother told Newschannel 6 she was told to be the better person and take the high road.  This is something that can be difficult after feeling attacked.

Since bullying has evolved, Newschannel 6 did some digging to find out how big of a problem it is and if it has gotten worse.

"The arena is so much wider that it ever was," Scott Slater, the Burkburnett Middle School Principal said.

Technology is a huge part of kids' life.  They use it constantly and can use it for educational purposes, but it can also be dangerous.

"We have a small computer that's right there in their hands that they can do just about anything with," Melissa Hardman, a Burkburnett Middle School Councilor said.

With everything online, it is almost impossible to know who is behind the screen.

Slater said, "it is a huge issue that we have to be very conscious of and sensitive to."

Many students will create fake accounts and even pretend to be someone else.  Another Burburnett Middle School Councilor said a lot of it is done anonymously, making it the hardest one to deal with.  Since, it is so hard to track and monitor, it is also hard for administrators to take disciplinary action.

“Consequences have to be assessed,” Slater said, “Don't get me wrong, but we try to never consequent unless we are also educating.”

This is especially true at the middle school level. Since they are still learning a lot about themselves and their place in society.

“It's really happening right during these critical years,” he said.

This is why they try to be proactive and teach kids about cyber bullying.

“Teaching them responsible digital citizenship is a huge priority,” Hardman said.

Parents are another big part of the solution.  They have to teach their kids at home how to properly use the devices.  A good idea is to know what apps or social media sites they are on.  Many experts recommend creating accounts on those apps or sites so parents can keep a closer eye on what's going on.  Plus, they can also communicate when there is a problem.

However, educators  know students aren't perfect.

“As much as you try to be proactive on as many things in this business, this is one where we have to be pretty reactive,” Slater said.

Educators said the best thing kids can do if they are a victim of bullying is to tell an adult.  They are always there to help.

, Newschannel 6