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Bullies on Facebook target more schools
NUMEROUS York schools have now been affected by a cyber-bullying scandal that has seen pupils excluded.
Head teachers have condemned the social networking site Facebook, after youngsters were targeted on “secrets” pages containing salacious gossip.
One Millthorpe School pupil and four Manor CE Academy pupils have been excluded for setting up pages and 20 pupils at Manor have been given detention for their involvement.
All have been asked to apologise. An investigation is under way at Joseph Rowntree School into similar allegations.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said a number of inappropriate Facebook pages attributed to schools had been reported in recent weeks. He said officers had been advising staff and pupils and helped to have the pages removed.
However, head teachers have experienced difficulty dealing with Facebook.
Trevor Burton, head teacher at Millthorpe, said Facebook refused to take down the two pages mentioning Millthorpe. One was apparently removed independently and the other had its comments taken down when the school discovered who was behind the page.
He said a teacher had to use their own account to report the matter and called Facebook’s response “appalling”.
Mr Burton said: “It’s awful to have lies spread about you on a public forum. The impact of Facebook on schools is quite negative.”
He thanked parents and teachers for reporting the problem.
A Facebook spokesman said: “We are clear that there is no place for bullying or harassment on Facebook. When a page such as this crosses a line and posts bullying content then we will remove it.” He said there was a “real name policy” and reporting links on every page so users could flag content for removal.
He said Facebook encouraged people to use those tools and said more information could be found at facebook.com/safety Brian Crosby, head teacher at Manor, said the school took cyber-bullying seriously and worked to tackle it. He said: “They do not seem to have a fast response button to get rid of these sites. They are asking us to provide the IT whizz kids of the future, but also providing a platform for abuse.”
Steve Smith, head teacher at Fulford School, said he was not aware of such pages at his school, but said comments on Facebook were often upsetting.
Mr Smith said: “We have read in the national press about some youngsters who have committed suicide over comments on Facebook. It’s about time Facebook stood up to its own responsibilities.”
Yesterday, The Press reported police were investigating a page called All Saints Secrets, which All Saints RC School head teacher Bill Scriven described as “vile”.
Staff reported it and it was taken down several days later, after more than 250 people had “liked” it.
Easingwold School wrote to parents warning of a similar Facebook group, which has since been removed.
Christine Holbrey, head teacher at Canon Lee School, said it was not aware of such problems, but said cyber-bullying was an issue for all schools and said Facebook was particularly troubling.
A NSPCC spokesman said: “Social networking has become part of millions of children’s lives. However for some children, social network sites are where they suffer from cyber bullying.
“This can be deeply upsetting for a child, particularly if they suffer from bullying in school too. This is because these children are being attacked even when they are at home where they would expect some respite.”
Parents or carers can contact the NSPCC on 0808 8005000 or email@example.com