The Hate Page
The boy created a Facebook Page called something like, “I Hate Cassidy and I Hope She Dies.” Friends of Cassidy’s on Facebook started liking the page and then making horrible comments about how much they hated her too, and that she should ‘just die’ or ‘just kill herself’. She was called names as well, cutting names about her appearance. There were accusations of being a brown-noser or teacher’s pet, but in coarse terms like ‘bitch’ and worse.
Because of the cyber bullying, Cassidy was convinced her friends had never really liked her and really were going to hate her forever. She believed the lies about her appearance and personality. Cassidy sobbed for a long time, many times. Cassidy had a strong relationship with her parents and knew she could talk to them. She showed her Mom and Dad the hate page and told them how it made her feel. They told her about their experiences, that this isn’t something new, it’s just a new and horribly cowardly way to do it. It wasn’t brushed off and ignored, the situation was just given some context by two people who had lots of life experience in this kind of thing. They also told her they’d take care of it and try not to embarrass her even further. So often kids are scared that if their parents step in, they’re just going to make things worse. That’s not the case if the parents show tact, diplomacy, and discretion.
The School’s Response
Her Dad is an IT guy and took screenshots of everything and determined when the page was actually created – during class time in the computer lab, under teacher supervision. Her parents thought that this was something the school would want to know about, and trusted that the school would help put an end to this cyber bullying. With the print-outs in hand, they went to see the school’s Principal. Not only did he offer no support other than a little glad-handing and perfunctory, “Oh I’m sorry about this.”, it came out that the teacher of that class actually HELPED the boy make the hate page. “It’s on the Internet, there’s nothing we can do. The Internet is not our responsibility.” the Principal said. The teachers response, in front of Cassidy’s Mom was, “Well, I have to go tell the boy to get it off there before he gets in trouble, and tell the other kids to get off of it too!”
This was the same teacher who helped the boy make the page. The teacher tracked down the family, as they were headed out of country on a vacation, to tell the boy to take the page down before he got in trouble. The page came down immediately and some rude remarks were made by his parents about Cassidy’s parents being troublemakers. Nothing happened in the way of discipline or even an apology. Coincidentally, the boy’s family is a fairly prominent one in that little western town.
Up the chain, the parents went to the Superintendent of the school district. Cassidy’s parents knew a thing or two about municipal politics and bureaucracy, so they knew how to manoeuvre the system and what key things to say to a Superintendent. They did get his attention, and he did give the Principal a mini-lecture, but still nothing was done to discipline the teacher OR the student that did the cyber bullying. “I can’t do anything. The Teachers’ Union has my hands tied.”, said the Superintendent. Coincidentally, the Superintendent was retiring very soon.
I really hate Facebook personally but this time they got it RIGHT!!! Well done Facebook.
Her parents then contacted Facebook directly and brought the page to their attention. They responded quickly and responsibly, sending the parents copies of the now-removed page so they’d have something to take to the authorities. The fellow that they talked with was compassionate and extremely helpful. Good for you Facebook, good for you.