Mahoning superintendents warn of Twitter cyber-bullying

BOARDMAN TWP., Ohio (WYTV) – School district superintendents across Mahoning County are warning students and parents about a new type of bullying.

According to a release from the Mahoning County Educational Service Center in Boardman Township, Twitter Polls can evolve into a source of harassment and cyber-bulling. The release indicates that school leaders are closely watching such activity.

“It’s easy for a kid to be cruel on social media, because they don’t have to look someone in the eyes and see what the impact of their words is,” Boardman High School Principal Cindy Fernback said.

Fernback said several students came to her and expressed concern about a poll on Twitter, saying it was toeing the line between tasteful and offensive.

The polls involve simple questions like “Who has the nicest smile?” But the tweets that follow can be inappropriate, crude, and degrading. They say individual tweets can be removed, but the poll question can be difficult to track down.

“It’s a different level. It’s hitting our kids, whether they’re sleeping, up during the day, in school, during school hours,” Canfield Schools Superintendent Alex Geordan said of social media and social media bullying.

The superintendents ask that parents talk to their children about the seriousness of attacking someone on social media. They says they are also prepared to deal with students who violate the district’s bullying policy and assist those who are victims of such attacks.

Canfield’s Superintendent and Boardman’s High School Principal both stress parents need to know what their kids are doing on social media. Each district has policies in place dealing with issues surrounding social media bullying and counselors available to talk to students.

The big take-home message for students: Tell someone, whether it’s a bus driver, teacher or principal.

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