ROY, Utah (ABC4) – This week marks the end of the school year for schools across Utah. However, even as class lets out for summer break, parents of students at Weber School District are worried about increasingly violent bullying. According to the school district, social media may be making the problem worse.  

“You can see me trying to fight my way out of it,” Marley Hogan said as she pointed to her mom’s phone. The two watched a video of a fight Marley was in on school grounds at Sand Ridge Jr. High School back in March.   

“When I got to the school, the principal said it was unprovoked, and that Marley was getting dressed for gym, and the girl just came up behind her and threw her on the ground and drug her around by her hair,” Marley’s mom Danielle Hogan told ABC4. She said that both girls were suspended. However, the harassment started up when they returned to school.  

“I can’t walk around the halls without feeling like I’m going to get attacked again, or threatened, or followed around,” Marley said. She explained that in recent weeks, the girl who attacked her attacked a second female student. When she learned about the fight, Marley said she felt even more unsafe at school.   

Danielle Mackenzie recently shared her daughter’s experience on a community Facebook page. Dozens of parents responded in the comments and through private messages sharing similar stories. Mackenzie told ABC4 she was shocked to learn just how widespread the bullying problem was at her daughter’s school and the district as a whole.  

To make matters worse, parents believe these fights are being used to gain “clout” or respect online. There have been different social media pages dedicated to fights at Sand Ridge Jr. High. Currently, there is an Instagram page devoted to such videos. (ABC4 is not mentioning the name of the page in order to protect the identities of children shown in fight videos.) While there are videos of both girls and boys fighting, Mackenzie said many of the videos showing girls fighting have something in common. She said there is one male voice that can be heard taunting the girls. Mackenzie believes there may be a group of boys instigating the fights just so they can film them and post them online.  

The Weber School District provided ABC4 with this statement:  

“We are aware of this social media account, and we are working closely with the Roy City Police Department.  If a crime was committed on school property, then it will be investigated by police as well as the school.  Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against any student who violates the law and the school’s code of conduct.  Due to student privacy issues, I can’t provide details on specific cases.”

“It is our understanding that the police department is trying to work with Instagram in hopes of having the page taken down since it contains violent content.  There has been an on-going issue this school year with inappropriate content appearing on social media platforms which encourages delinquent and criminal behavior.”

Mackenzie told ABC4 that the principal believes that parents need to monitor their children’s social media activity more closely to prevent additional fights from happening. Mackenzie told ABC4 she agrees with that statement, explaining that her daughter isn’t allowed to have social media because it makes it easier to hide things from parents. She said she’d encourage other parents to be more vigilant as well, but stated the school needs to do more as well.  

“I would like to see more supervision on school grounds but if that’s not a possibility, there needs to be more immediate responses, repercussions,” she stated.    

After the recent Texas school shooting, many parents worry about the safety of their children while they are at school. Many, like Mackenzie, hope school officials will crack down on bullying before it’s too late. “Once is enough for it to happen because it can take only once for it to be really bad.” 

The United States Department of Health and Human Resources manages the stopbullying.gov website. This site provides parents with resources to learn more about bullying.  

Parents may be surprised to learn that there are behavior changes children often demonstrate both when they are being bullied and when they are doing the bullying.  

Children who are being bullied often fake illnesses like headaches and stomach aches to get out of class. Having headaches. There may also be changes in their eating habits. Often, children lose interest in schoolwork and their grades take a tumble as a result.  

Children who are bullying others are frequently involved in physical or verbal fights. They may become more aggressive, even around family. Parents may also notice that their child suddenly has unexplained money and belongings.   

For more signs of bullying, click here.