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Project Safe Schools: The new age of cyberbullying

Posted: 5:00 AM, May 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-21 10:01:07Z
Project Safe Schools

SAND SPRINGS, OK (KJRH) — For a mother to find out a revealing video of her daughter was released all over school is devastating. For her to find out her child didn't even know it was taken, and that it sparked a nasty, false rumor, is even more so.

Treba Shyers opened the car door to let in her daughter Maya, coming home from school crying about a video taken at a sleepover weeks before. Maya says the video showed her changing clothes, and was airdropped to everyone in the cafeteria at lunch.

"Everyone was looking at me," Maya said, "and I was like, 'what the heck?' and someone came over to my table and showed me. That's how I found out."

Looking for help and searching for an answer, Treba turned to Steve Hahn with The Parent Child Center of Tulsa.

"If you're posting on social media," Hahn said, "on Facebook, on Instagram, on Snapchat, your actions can very much impact the lives of someone else."

Hahn says because of the sense of anonymity social media, and screen-to-screen communication in general, people are instantly able and more willing to do, say, and share more online than they ever would in person. He says that has the potential to ruin lives in an instant.

"People get mad over little things, and hold grudges," Maya said. "And they believe what they see," her mother added.

When grudges in school meet the power of social media, nasty rumors, pictures, and video have the ability to spread like wildfire. That's exactly what happened to Maya, as a video of her was dropped directly onto every phone in her school's cafeteria at Clyde Boyd Middle School in Sand Springs.

Sand Springs Superintendent Sherry Durkee says the district has been taking steps to figure out ways to combat cyberbullying, taking several perspectives into account.

"We're going to have to get into more of a security system," Treba said about phones in schools.

Hahn says it's a complex issue, because most students are tied to their phones every waking hour. The answer, he says, lies in the ability to walk a line between not completely separating kids from their devices, but also proactively teaching responsibility.

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