It’s a Website used by millions of people to connect with each other. But recently, police say a group of 14-year-old LaSalle Intermediate students used Facebook for the wrong reason…to bully classmates.
Their punishment? Suspension.
The three girls accused of creating two Facebook pages and making hurtful comments on those pages about other students in the building are in the 8th grade at LaSalle, police confirmed Monday. The pages were apparently created March 25, according to a police report filed by the school.
South Bend Community Schools Corp. officials wouldn’t get specific about what the students are accused of saying on the social networking site that got them into trouble, but LaSalle Intermediate Principal Nathan Boyd said it was serious and potentially dangerous.
“We’ve got smart kids here, and they see their parents using Facebook and things like that,” said Cheryl Trethewey, who sends her two sons to LaSalle.
Parents alerted school administrators about the cyber bullying last week, Boyd said.
The worked with the school resource officer to file a police report April 19 and sent a letter home to parents April 20 to let them know about the dangers of cyberbullying and how to stay active in their kids' internet activities.
In the letter, Boyd called the situation "...potentially dangerous bullying and inappropriate activities that were ultimately disruptive to our educational environment."
“If you’re going to use Facebeook, you’ve got to use some responsibility with it,” said parent Terry Trethewey. “If a student is bullying another student, the consequences have to fit what they’re doing. It’s nothing that’s new. Students have known for a long time now that bullying won’t be tolerated.”
And it’s one more reason for parents like the Tretheweys and grandparents like Robert Danner, whose 12-year-old grandson is in the 5th grade at LaSalle, to worry.
“It’s way different than back when I was a kid. Bullying was [when] you got pushed around and now it’s more of a mental thing, it seems, these days than a physical kind of thing,” Danner said. “I wouldn’t want to tolerate it. There’s just no sense in it.”
The school corporation would not say how long those three girls are suspended. Police said the girls didn't make any threats on the Facebook page.
Boyd said he went to police because this is “more than a slap on the wrist,” and because the school corporation won’t tolerate bullying.
“We’re in a society nowadays where things like this happen here and across our nation. We take a very serious stance on bullying – in person and online,” he added.
It does not appear as though the three girls will face criminal charges.