Arlington Students Focus on Ending Cyberbullying
By Office of Communication
Posted on November 14, 2011, November 14, 2011

Kathy Stephens keeps a close watch on her 11-year-old son's Facebook account and Internet activities.

Still, cyberbullying was a foreign concept to her.

"I want to be aware of what he might encounter," Stephens said. "Cyberbullying was not something I ever had to deal with growing up, so it's important to stay on top of this."

Stephens and her son, Connor Porter, were among the roughly three dozen participants Saturday at Delete Digital Drama, an event that aimed to end cyberbullying, sponsored by the Mayor's Youth Commission.

The extent of cyberbullying is difficult to know. The Cyberbullying Research Center, which defines the phenomenon as "willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices," estimates one in five students ages 11 to 18 have been affected.

That is why the Mayor's Youth Commission, which made bullying a central issue for the past two years, hopes to bring attention to the problem.
On Saturday, participants played games to illustrate how it feels to be on the outside. For example, everyone linked arms and formed a circle, and one person tried to talk or break their way into the circle. The event at Dottie Lynn Recreation Center also featured a big-screen showing of the ABC Family movie Cyberbullying.

Mayor Robert Cluck, who addressed the group, said cyberbullying is on the rise.

"It is becoming an increasingly severe problem right here in Arlington, Texas," Cluck said. "People do these things because they are not happy with their own lives, with their place in the world, so they try to get attention."

Small-group discussions focused on issues such as school involvement in bullying, online privacy, why and how bullying occurs, and what to do if you are a victim of cyberbullying.

Sandra Babers, a senior at Arlington High School, urged participants to delete online accounts if they are being bullied. Babers said she got rid of her Facebook account this past summer after growing tired of the online drama.

"If you are being bullied on Facebook, delete your Facebook. If you are being bullied on Twitter, delete your Twitter," Babers, 17, said. "Remove yourself from the situation. I know that can be harder than it sounds, but it is the only way to put an end to it."

Even teachers and principals struggle with how to handle cyberbullying because much of it occurs outside of school, said Megan Broussard, a senior at Summit High School.

"Cyberbullying is a big problem, but the schools have no control," Broussard said. "This is a relatively new problem, and everyone is still trying to figure out how to handle it."

Still, it is important to talk to someone if you are being bullied, said Gabby Gallegos, an 8th grader at Ousley Junior High who said she was bullied in elementary school by classmates.

"If you're being bullied, you have to tell someone," Gallegos said. "You shouldn't feel embarrassed because you're not the only one who is going through it."

Porter, who is in the 6th grade at Duff Elementary, said bullying is a community-wide problem that needs to be addressed.

"This affects people at every school in the country," Porter said. "It's something we need to talk about."

For more information on cyberbullying, visit the Cyberbullying Research Center.

Youth Commission

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