SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Granite School District has issued a stern warning to its more than 60,000 students and their parents.
Their message: “Cyberbullying is not okay nor will it ever be okay”.
The district said it has been a dangerous issue for years, but recently it’s taken on a new form.
On Instagram, there were anonymous accounts with the usernames “velleyjr_hawties” and “valleyjruglygirls” that are posting pictures of students and staff with inappropriate captions or questions.
Some have been deleted but others are still online.
We spoke with a parent whose daughter’s photo was posted on one of these accounts.
She said her kids aren’t new to this harassment and the school district said this has been an issue it has been working on for several years.
Lindsay is a mother of six and has multiple kids in the Granite School District.
We are concealing her last name to protect her family.
“You have a site go up that says ‘ugly girls of whatever school or fat girls or peoples butt of whatever school that should be filtered,'” said Lindsay.
She said one of her daughter’s photos was posted on the now-deleted Instagram page called “valleyjruglygirls” with the line that said ‘send pictures of your ugly girls that go here,’
“Her initial reaction was she was upset,” said Lindsay. “She feels like everyone hates her and she feels like she is the ugly kid of the school and she is not. That is not fair.”
It took five weeks for Instagram to take down the page, but others still exist like the one, “valleyjr_hawties with the caption “ship or dip,”
A message was issued Saturday from Granite School District Superintendent Dr. Rich Nye on YouTube that was sent out to parents and staff.
“Let me be clear,” said Dr. Nye, “The negative use of social media continues to be a significant detriment to the learning environment and the safety of our schools. Please consider how your child is using social media and make sure you are monitoring their online behavior.”
Granite School District Communications Director Ben Horsley said there is an employee who dedicates most of their time to finding these pages and reporting them.
He said the schools also block some of these sites but are accessed when wifi is turned off and data is on.
He added they can only do so much and the rest is up to the social media platform.
“In reality, schools should not have to monitor your child’s social media account,” said Horsley. “That is your job as a parent.”
Lindsay said she offers support when she can and said it is vital parents know what is going on in their kid’s lives and monitor their cell phones.
“My kids are ever aware that I am responsible for them and that their life is in my hands and they won’t always agree with what I am saying or doing,” said Lindsay. “It’s not my job to be their friend, it is my job to protect them.”
Horsley added the schools are doing what they can but much of it comes down to what happens before or after school.
Many other parents we spoke to said their child has also been a victim of cyberbullying, citing social media is getting overrun with these inappropriate accounts.
Lindsay said it took several people to report the account before it was taken down.
She said she is a part of a Utah Moms Facebook group that allows parents to become aware of these pages.
If your child is a victim of bullying in any form Granite Schol District asks you please report it or use the SafeUT application that allows you report things like crimes or bullying anonymously.
This is from StopBullying.org:
When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time.
Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.