On Friday, May 18 around 8 p.m., a girl was at the when several girls allegedly tried to fight her. This came after she had already been the victim of Facebook harassment from these same girls, said the girl's mother when she went to report these incidents to the Sleepy Hollow police.
Her daughter was getting picked up from the carnival in a white Honda Accord when three girls started kicking the front right quarter panel denting the car and chipping the paint. The car and its passengers was able to drive away. All parties later responded to the police station, with two witnesses to the incident. Photos of the car and witness statements were taken; the case was turned over to the detective division.
The outcome remains undetermined, and detectives don't offer up much information when it comes to youthful offenders and open investigations.
Facebook is a common vehicle for school-aged harassment. The harassment often does feed into, and escalate, its offline real-world component, as incidents like this and teenage fights, or attempts to fight, as the weekly Police Beat blotters report attests.
Though they don't cover the grounds, the Tarrytown police department deals with similar harassment cases on Facebook “every week; it's a big problem,” said Detective Sgt. Gene Buonanno. The department doesn't take these cases lightly: if the person is a youth offender, they will often be sent to youth court, and if 16 years or over, “we'll arrest.”
At least with Facebook, Buonanno said, “you always know who it is.”
For parents, several recent Patch blog posts offered online security tips from those in the know. Jennifer Cronk, longtime computer teacher wrote this series:
Cronk included these tips to parents:
- Seriously reconsider allowing your child to have a Facebook account. Watch the video and get your child's username and password. Use them, often, check the privacy settings and all restrictions. Remember, what is done online is permanent and unscrupulous, illegal or immoral activity can affect the possibility of getting into college or getting a job. It could also seriously damage his reputation.
- If you allow your child to have a Facebook account, do not let him lie about his age. There are certain precautions Facebook does take to protect the young. For example, any member under 18 will automatically be exempt from public directory information, and Facebook will restrict what adults can contact them.
Some of Brown's points:
Get proof. Take a screenshot of the cyberbullying evidence.
Some school administrators may tell you that there is nothing they can do. I have heard administrators say, “I can not watch all students, all the time.” Do not accept this response. Every child has a right to feel safe at school.
If you can’t seem to get protection for your child at school, make sure you file a police report ever time the bullying/cyberbullying happens. They may not charge the bully but at least you have a record of the abuse.
Desperate measures call for desperate action. You may have to remove your child from that class, school bus or school.
Has your child been the victim of cyberbullying? Did this happen on Facebook? Share your experience, advice, and what you do did about it, in the comments below.