At least one Twitter account has been suspended and officials and law enforcement are narrowing the parameters that will identify the individual or individuals who has or have been bullying students at Sulphur Springs High School and other schools in the area.
“This happens all the time. Anyone with a cellphone and a data plan can say anything they want and hurt others.” Sulphur Springs High School Principal Josh Williams made the preceding statement as he said someone or ones are acting anonymously and inviting others to contact them with information they wish published but are afraid to say themselves. Principal Williams said the SSISD Police Department and District Attorney’s office are partnering to find out who is operating the twitter feeds filled with inappropriate words and unverified comments meant to hurt those named in the feed. He said the local school is being proactive.
Currently students in Sulphur Springs, Yantis, Quitman, and other schools around the area are being vilified on at least one or more Twitter accounts. Williams said it seems the perpetrator has gone through several twitter accounts as they hide behind the anonymity of an @ name. As of Wednesday (April 15), he said another new, inappropriate twitter account appeared that seems to be a copycat of others before it. Williams noted that as soon as the individual is identified, if he or she or they are students at SSHS, proper disciplinary action as required by the school code of conduct would be administered.
Sulphur Springs High School administration has contacted Twitter in attempts to suspend sites that have been identified locally as Twitter accounts that are bullying in nature according to Rusty Harden, SSISD Communication Director. KSST is aware of at least one site that was active but as of noon today (Thursday April 16) is currently suspended. Harden said the high school working with campus police and the District Attorney’s office do have a few leads and are near identifying the individual or individuals who are moderating the site and/or sites. He said that the school and district would follow district policies regarding discipline of the one or more involved in bullying through the use of Twitter.
Williams assured KSST News that no school internet resources were being used by those who are bullying others with these twitter feeds. He stated that with a cellphone and a personal data plan, it is difficult to monitor the activity which is becoming more prevalent each year. He said that if you said students cannot bring their cellphones to school, then the good kids would leave their cellphones at home but not the bully. He also pointed out that parents, who are usually the ones paying for the data should know how their child is using the data.
Williams said it is frustrating that the school is limited in what it can do but he is not fearful that the bully will not be apprehended. Technology gives them the power to do what they are doing but technology also has the capabilities of exposing them as well.
Currently, counselors are working on a program to talk to students regarding their use of social media. The emphasis will focus on the student and their online reputation, the fact that bullying is hurting others, and that students who are being bullied should not hang their self-worth or emotions on what they read on the internet.
Williams said whoever is using twitter to bully students is doing it for attention. This will go away but something else will take its place according to the principal. “The biggest piece of this is not knowing who is doing this.” He said he is not certain the one doing this is a SSHS student. The school is “not putting our heads in sand” and is responding appropriately. “We will have school.”