Students stand up, rally against cyberbullying (Thinkstock)
Students stand up, rally against cyberbullying
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Students at a Vermont high school are winning praise for their efforts to fight back against online bullying. After a burst of negative posts last week on an anonymous school news app, students at Rutland High School organized a counterattack.

They petitioned the creators of the After School app to take their school's message board down, and then launched a "Positive Post-it" campaign, in which small notes offering praise and encouragement to fellow students were stuck to bulletin boards and windows around the school.

They also petitioned the tech giant Apple to remove After School from its App Store. An Apple spokesman said the company had agreed and removed the app.

The app's intended use is to help students to form groups tied to a specific school and post anonymous messages about local goings-on.

Instead, comments on Rutland High School's app were "negative, obscene," said Principal Bill Olsen.

Senior Eric Gokee said he was labeled on the app as "the biggest Jew at Rutland High School." He was one of five students who spoke during morning announcements, introducing himself by saying, "Some of you may know me as the biggest Jew at Rutland High School." He added in an interview a few days later he was voted as such in a survey on the app.

"I never downloaded the app, but I knew what was going on just from my friends. Everyone was talking about it," Gokee said.

Sophomore Molly Engels, president of a student group, Cyber You, which is devoted to responsible Internet use, said, "It was a big wakeup call to see so many people affected by it in a negative way."

The Rutland students' anti-bullying efforts, first reported during the weekend by the Rutland Herald, drew praise from Gov. Peter Shumlin.

"The students' campaign makes me realize that people of all ages can do the right thing and doing so can send a powerful message," the governor said in a statement.

After School co-founder Cory Levy defended the app, calling it a "blank sheet of paper" that leaves students to decide what to write on it.

"We've only just gotten to know these students," Levy wrote in an email. "Their parents have had years to shape their morals and build good decision making skills."

John Halligan, who has been an anti-bullying activist since his son, Ryan, committed suicide in 2003 following intense online bullying by fellow middle school students in Essex, said he had spoken to Rutland students two years ago.

"I'm really proud of these kids," he said, adding they had gotten the message to "stand up for one another and push back against the bullying behavior."

Critical thinking challenge: What reasoning did the app's co-founder use to avoid accepting responsibility for the abusive way his app was used?

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What reasoning did the app's co-founder use to avoid accepting responsibility for the abusive way his app was used?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (78)
  • BColton-Sti
    12/18/2014 - 09:24 a.m.

    Cyber-bulling is the problem here."I'm really proud of these kids," is what John Halligan said. He said this because these kids are standing up for the other kids that are getting bullied. I agree with what these kids are doing no one should be bullied and if you are able to stand up to it then that's more power to you.

  • RSydnee-Sti
    12/18/2014 - 09:32 a.m.

    Kids are finally standing up for one another and dong something about online bullying. John Halligan, who has been an anti-bullying activist since his son, Ryan, committed suicide in 2003 following intense online bullying by fellow middle school students in Essex, said he had spoken to Rutland students two years ago. This is important because like John Halligans son people will kill themselves over this and that's bad we need to do something to stop it. So if you see something online or see a kid being bullied you need to do something about it before its to late.

  • LAvery-Sti
    12/18/2014 - 10:00 a.m.

    Cyber bulling can push kids and people way to far. I don't think kids realize how much this hurts other people. This is a scary thing because a lot of kids do bad things over this. The parents can't do anything about it. I think that if we could stop this things could be a lot better then they are now.

  • MFrancisco-Sti
    12/18/2014 - 10:17 a.m.

    M - Students at Vermont are starting to fight back against cyber bullying.
    E - They made an app against cyber bullying.
    A - I would have done that too.
    L - People all over the world are starting to fight back cyber bullying.

  • alexi1125
    12/18/2014 - 10:27 a.m.

    its about time somebody said something. cyber bullying is getting out of hand. Now on the social media "instagram,facebook,twitter,etc.. there getting out of hand ,people have no chills violating other peoples life.

  • veronicav-Koc
    12/18/2014 - 01:23 p.m.

    I think its great that students at different high schools are putting up apps for online bullying. Its amazing how they ask to pull down an app that was hurting most kids being bullied and how they are starting to put an app for people to post how they feel anonymously.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    12/18/2014 - 01:34 p.m.

    It's cool that students are actually doing something instead of just not saying anything. It makes me so mad when people are like "cyberbullying is dumb, just walk away" because it's really not that simple.

  • davidd-Orv
    12/18/2014 - 04:45 p.m.

    this is awesome to me because often times it happens making people feel bad and no one should feel bad about them selves or deal with people given hate to them so students should stand up and never let any one be bullied don't be a by stander be an up stander

  • GJessica-Cas
    12/18/2014 - 04:55 p.m.

    I feel both the student and faculty made the right choice with deleting the app from the Apple app store. Bullying and Cyber bullying have been a huge topic across the entire nation it seems. The fact that the entire school district decided to stand up for what they thought they believed what was right just proves there are still good people in this world.

  • JacobM-5
    12/18/2014 - 04:58 p.m.

    This article is about a high school taking charge in trying to stop bullying. When they saw kids being cyber bullied in a school news paper they did everything they could to stop it. So they took it to as far as apple to get the app deleted. Once it stopped the kids had one and everybody even the principal congratulated them. I thought this article was empowering to know kids are out there trying to stop bullying with the rest of the world.

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