Twitter bullying leads to suspension

Trash talk between students gets physical at Valleyview secondary school

Michele Young / Kamloops Daily News
December 21, 2012 01:00 AM

Five Valleyview secondary students were suspended and will have to sit down with their parents, the RCMP and school district officials after the group allegedly ganged up on a girl at her locker earlier this week.

The incident, which school district Supt. Terry Sullivan said lasted eight to 10 seconds, was recorded and uploaded to Youtube. It has since been taken down, he said.

The girls were trash-talking each other on Twitter outside of school, then brought their disagreement into the building on Wednesday morning, he said.

No one was badly hurt, but the incident was just one of many that have been occurring throughout the district and steps have to be taken to rein them in, he said.

"It's something we have to do but we have to look at better ways we can manage it. Media play a part in that, parents play a big part of that. These messages were going out Tuesday night from people's homes or wherever they happened to be with their electronic devices. Kids take them to bed at night and they're texting at 3 o'clock in the morning."

The investigation is still ongoing and will turn to those who recorded the altercation and posted it on the Internet, Sullivan said. Those responsible could face disciplinary action as well.

"Others are there and they tape it and upload immediately to social media sites. That stimulates further comments on Twitter and Facebook, which kind of keeps it going and it comes into the school in other ways."

The five girls were suspended Thursday and Friday. Sullivan didn't know how long the suspension will last, but said the meeting with parents and RCMP needs to be held first - probably over the Christmas break.

Sullivan said this is just the latest incident the district is having to deal with involving students and social media gone wrong.

"I quite frankly think we're going to have to work with parents and work with the media," he said.

"We've had several incidents in the last two weeks, students being on Twitter and defaming staff. A whole range of issues. Defaming other students. This is just another one."

Sullivan called the Valleyview secondary event typical of what's going on when kids get their hands on technology with powers that have more impact than they realize.

"They're not adults. They're children. Some of the behaviour is obviously immature," he said.

Schools are seeing some of the effects, but it extends outside of district buildings and class time.

"This is not our training. We're trained as teachers and educators. We're spending huge amounts of our time managing this behaviour and it comes from a small group of individuals," he said.

"And we have to spend it or we'll see other tragedies that will take place as a result."

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