Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Students in High School

Bullying begins to peak during the high school years. Kids begin to find their nitch and become involved in sports, music and other extra curricular activities. However, there still can be some cyber bullies who contact victims through personal blogs, instant messaging and even cell phone text messaging.

In one case, a student received a message on the Internet saying, "Hey John , look at this website." After going to the Web site, John saw his photo with the headline "Welcome to the Web site that makes fun of John Smith," as well as pages of hateful comments directed towards him and everyone in his family. The creator of the Web site had others join in, posting lewd, sexual comments and smearing John's reputation.

This is an example of excessive cyber bullying in high school-aged individuals. While it potentially could have been meant as a joke, it took joking to another level and was looked at as a matter for the police to handle.

High school students can protect themselves from cyber bullying by:

  • Being careful about to whom they give their email address and phone numbers;
  • Never give their e-mail passwords to anyone, not even a close friend;
  • Walk away from the computer if harassment starts, don't begin a war of words over the computer; and
  • Keep in mind that online conversations can be reproduced and spread very easily. Virtually nothing online is private.

Remember, high school students often feel invincible, untouchable, but that sadly isn't the case. Engaging in malice toward others over the Internet can become serious enough to have the police involved. Once students have a criminal record, it will follow them for the rest of their lives - on college applications and on job applications. Encourage students to think twice before setting up a Web site that pokes fun at someone or before they send that hateful text message to the kid in homeroom who "everyone" teases.