Austin students learn how to prevent cyber-bullying - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Katie Lange

Austin students learn how to prevent cyber-bullying

AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) -- Protecting yourself and your kids from the dangers of cyber space is no easy task.

There is a lot of potential harm, even for people who don't use sites like Facebook, MySpace or Twitter.

While Austin students say fights still break out in the halls, what they're experiencing more than ever is harassment via text messaging and social media, like Facebook.

Gone are the days when bullies just roamed the school halls, now they're coming into your home through cyberspace.

"People cry in front of their computer, you just got to feel bad about that," said Josh Snee, an  Ellis Middle School student.

"Some of the chats that people put on, not knowing that it's on there. You can tell how mean they're being and aggressive," explained Christine Nelson.

While sticks and stones may break your bones, words can crush your self-esteem. A 6th grader at Ellis, Snee, said he was bullied on Facebook.

"I've seen stuff about me that has been posted and I didn't know that was going to happen, but it did get posted. I just wish that somebody wouldn't have done that, because it was really embarrassing," recalled Snee.

It seems kids aren't just bullying online, they're also looking at suggestive pictures.

According to an anonymous survey of Ellis 7th graders, more than 81 percent of students will admit to daily looking at pornography and other uncensored materials online.

Nelson said she saw nudity on Facebook.

"Girls on my Facebook who I have never seen in my life. They were shirtless and all of this, and they wanted to be my friend," said Nelson.

The dangers of social media are undeniable; from soliciting children for sex to even spurring young adults to commit suicide. 

Snee and Nelson said they plan on being more careful online.

"I should be more careful on Facebook, I need to set a privacy lock," said Snee.

"Set more privacies, watch more closely to what my friends are saying and what I'm saying," said Nelson.

All good steps to make sure the Internet is safe and fun for everyone.

Ellis Middle School's principal said while the school feels the Internet has great potential for communication, it also requires being responsible.

They want kids to know that what they post online now, could hinder them in the future.

 

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