Lima schools doing battle with online bullies

First Posted: 1/20/2015

LIMA — “Lima Senior cheerleaders are fat,” an anonymous post reads.

As a part of an on-going Twitter feed, there’s more like it. Coming from multiple accounts, the tweets serve as an online burn book, only more vicious. The posts get more cruel over time; most include students’ full names and handles discussing drug use, sexual activity or personal attributes.

Receiving a complaint about the accounts on Monday, Lima City School’s Superintendent Jill Ackerman found and reported three different pages; @Limaconfessions, @confessionsLH2 and @timetoexposeLH2. Since then, two have been taken down. Variations of these accounts already exist, such as @limaconfession.

“Those are the big ones,” Ackerman said.

The Lima Police Department also received a complaint Wednesday morning about several pages where students from Lima Senior High School were being harassed with multiple names being used. The culprits behind the posts or accounts have not yet been caught.

If city or district officials catch those invovled, Ackerman said there’s no limit regarding punishments. Based on the severity of a person’s involvement and disruption at school, punishments could extend from detention all the way to expulsion.

“If the people that are doing this are exposed, I would do everything in my power to give the worst possible punishment I could,” she said. “We do not tolerate cyber-bullying.”

High school principal Douglas Kent said he discussed the issue with students Wednesday morning, making the district’s stance regarding online harassment and possible repercussions very clear. The district has also notified parents, encouraging them to discuss appropriate online practices with their children.

“There’s always an ongoing discussion here on how we treat ourselves and others,” Kent said.

Conveniently, the high school had already scheduled an anti-bullying assembly for Jan. 29 with Phil Chalmers. The speaker has interviewed more than 200 teen killers and school shooters to understand the way offenders think. In the majority of scenarios, Chalmers’ website said he’s determined bullying or harassment played a large part into why teens either harmed themselves or others.

“It’ll be a great assembly,” Ackerman said. “I wish it would’ve been scheduled for this week, but it’s still pretty good timing.”

Kent said this isn’t the first time Lima City Schools has had problems with cyber-bullying, but the district isn’t the only one with offending social media accounts. Schools from Elida, Bath and Findlay, as well as others, have similar types of cyber-bullying twitter accounts online.

“It happens at every school,” he said.

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