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Don’t be mean behind the screen: Pioneer takes a stand against cyberbullying

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Don’t be mean behind the screen: Pioneer takes a stand against cyberbullying

Positive Peer Influence member Nadia Ajlouny, a sophomore, says that
students now have better methods to address cyberbullying.

Positive Peer Influence member Nadia Ajlouny, a sophomore, says that students now have better methods to address cyberbullying.

Positive Peer Influence member Nadia Ajlouny, a sophomore, says that students now have better methods to address cyberbullying.

Positive Peer Influence member Nadia Ajlouny, a sophomore, says that students now have better methods to address cyberbullying.

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     Pioneer’s freshmen and sophomore classes will be attending a symposium focusing on a multitude of issues, including cyberbullying, on April 20.

     The symposium will discuss “appropriate texting and social media use, harassment, peer-to-peer etiquette, and drug cessation,” according to Kevin Hudson, Pioneer’s 9th and 11th grade principal. Because the junior and senior classes already have an assembly designated to Prom, which focuses on overlapping topics, they will not be required to attend the symposium.

     A unique topic that has only recently become a national and local focus is cyberbullying. The Cyberbullying Research Center says that cyberbullying is “when someone repeatedly makes fun of another person online or repeatedly picks on another person through e-mail or text message.” Pioneer school psychologist Dr. Emily Sportsman says that approximately 43 percent of teens report being cyberbullied at some point.

     Hudson says that social media is a “huge issue,” and has become far more prominent in the underclassmen than the upperclassmen, which is contributing to why only the underclassmen are required to come.

     According to Sportsman, cyberbullying can be very destructive. “Cyberbullying can affect students’ mental health,” she said. “Sometimes students (who are being bullied) have trouble sleeping, lose interest in activities, or socially isolate themselves.”

     Sportsman also explained why cyberbullying can be the most detrimental type of bullying. “It can happen at any time, even when you think you’re safe at home because kids are constantly checking their devices,” she said. “Also, words and images on the internet can be seen by a lot of people and can stay there forever.”

     Cyberbullying affects students from every part of the country and in Pioneer. Sophomore Elena Tucker was sent demeaning messages and death threats her freshman year by a fellow Pioneer student. “She would send me death threats, call me names, and tell me that nobody liked me,” she said. “It definitely impacted the rest of my year and I was really hurt.”

     Tucker said that the cyberbullying she suffered was worse than conventional bullying that could have occurred. “It’s not someone else’s voice you’re hearing, it’s your own, which makes it so much more hurtful,” she said.

     As shown by the assembly, Pioneer is aware of these issues and is working to fix them. Pioneer has several support groups: Peer 2 Peer, Positive Peer Influence, and Peer Mediation. These groups provide guidance and support for issues far beyond cyberbullying, but it is one of the issues they address.

     Sophomore Positive Peer Influence member Nadia Ajlouny says that cyberbullying is “horrible,” but believes people are becoming more informed about it. Even though cyberbullying is a relatively new topic, it has been prominent enough for students to start becoming more aware. “I think people our age are a lot more educated about it,” Ajlouny said, “now more than ever with social media.”

     The Pioneer Administration also investigates cyberbullying very seriously. “The psychologist, counselor, or social worker may be involved in supporting the student,” Sportsman said. “In some serious cases, a police report is made.”

     Some students say the planned assembly is a good start in informing large numbers of students of the very real dangers of cyberbullying. “Pioneer has been really good about talking about bullying and making it known,” Tucker said. “But I think we can do more.”

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Don’t be mean behind the screen: Pioneer takes a stand against cyberbullying