Bullies create 'hit list' on Facebook to torment classmates

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – So-called 'hit lists' are hitting Facebook so bullies can burn their fellow students online.

There have been movies, like Mean Girls, based around the same principle, but the cruel behavior has become a reality at North Brunswick High School.

While the North Brunswick Hit List Facebook page isn't a violent in nature, it is cruel, embarrassing and sexually explicit.  Someone is posting pictures of students and adding inappropriate captions like, "freshman ***** sends naked pictures to guys after knowing them for a day."

In the movies the school takes charge, putting an end to the nasty behavior, but in real life it's not so simple.

"Our hands are tied to some extent," said Principal Sheila Grady.  "When students decide to do these things on their own time, there's not a lot of control that we have."

According to Grady, school officials can call a student's parent if they know who's behind the bullying.  Parents are the first line of defense.  Grady says even high school students need internet supervision.

"We would advise parents to look into that, because these things are happening at 2:00 – 3:00 a.m.  They're certainly not at school," said Grady.

Similar Facebook pages have popped up in New Hanover County.  Not only has it been an issue at the high school level, but middle school students are creating them as well.

Prevention Tips for Parents

- www.cyberbullying.us <http://www.cyberbullying.us>

1.) Establish that all rules for interacting with people in real life also apply for interacting online or through cell phones. Convey that cyber bullying inflicts harm and causes pain in the real world as well as in cyberspace.

2.) Educate your children about appropriate internet-based behaviors. Explain to them the problems that can be created when technology is misused (e.g., damaging their reputation, getting in trouble at school or with the police).

3.) Model appropriate technology usage. Don't harass or joke about others while online. Your kids are watching and learning.

4.) Monitor your child's activities while they are online. This can be done informally (through active participation in, and supervision of, your child's online experience) and formally (through software). Use discretion when covertly spying on your kids. This could cause more harm than good if your child feels their privacy has been violated. They may go completely underground with their online behaviors and deliberately work to hide their actions from you.

5.) Use filtering and blocking software as a part of a comprehensive approach to online safety, but understand software programs alone will not keep kids safe or prevent them from bullying others or accessing inappropriate content. Most tech-savvy youth can figure out ways around the filters very quickly.

- Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D.

- Cyber bullying Research Center

- www.cyberbullying.us <http://www.cyberbullying.us>

- www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov <http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov>

1.) Make sure your child feels (and is) safe and secure, and convey unconditional support. Parents must demonstrate through words and actions that they both desire the same end result: that the cyber bullying stop and that life does not become even more difficult. Never tell your child to ignore the bullying. What the child may "hear" is that you are going to ignore it. Instead, empathize with your child. Tell him or her that bullying is wrong, not their fault and that you are glad he or she had the courage to talk to you about it.

2.) Thoroughly investigate the situation so that you fully understand what happened, who was involved, and how it all started. Getting to the root cause of the behavior will help you develop an appropriate response - whether your child was the target or the bully.

3.) Refrain from immediately banning access to instant messaging, e-mail, social networking websites, a cell phone, or the internet in general. This strategy neither addresses the underlying interpersonal conflict, nor eliminates current or future instances of victimization. It will also likely close off a candid line of communication and promote overt defiance of the ban among children accustomed to frequent online access.

4.) Contact your the school counselor at your child's school so that he or she can investigate the situation at the school level and check in on your child when he or she is not at home.

5.) When necessary, contact and work with the internet service provider, cell phone service provider (Facebook or Springform for example) to investigate the issue or remove the offending material. Prior to having everything deleted, however, print out hard-copies that may be necessary for school or law enforcement investigations.

6.) When appropriate, contact the police. For example, law enforcement should be immediately contacted when physical threats are involved or a crime has possibly been committed (such as capturing, sending, or posting sexually-explicit images of minors). The administration, counselors, and school resource officers at your child's school can help advise you on when to make this report if you are unsure.

7.) DO NOT contact the parents of the student(s) who bullied your child. This is usually a parent's first response, but sometimes it makes matters worse. School officials or law enforcement should contact the parents of the child or children who did the bullying.

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