Students stand up, rally against cyberbullying
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. Then they 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 was one of five students who spoke during morning announcements. He introduced 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 is president of a student group, Cyber You. It is devoted to responsible Internet use, "It was a big wakeup call to see so many people affected by it in a negative way," she said.

The Rutland students' anti-bullying efforts 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. He called 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 has been an anti-bullying activist since his son, Ryan, committed suicide in 2003. That was following online bullying by fellow middle school students. He said he had spoken to Rutland students two years ago.

"I'm really proud of these kids," he said. He added that 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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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

  • hartf-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 10:26 a.m.

    The app's co-founder reasoning was that he called it a " Blank piece of paper " which allows students to decide what to write on it. And that allows him to avoid responsibility for the abuse on the app.

  • alyssay-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 10:27 a.m.

    He claimed the app to be a "blank sheet of paper" and that it was only suppose to be used for students so they could form groups and talk about things going on inside their school. He also seemed to blame the parents of the children who posted negative things. saying things like; "Their parents have had years to shape their morals and build good decision making skills," basically accusing them as bad influences.

  • gabbyf-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 10:28 a.m.

    I feel that the reasoning the app's co-founder avoided accepting responsibility for the abusive way his app was used is because he made the point, it's basically like a blank piece of paper, what you put on it is your choice but there are consequences to everything you do. He didn't accept responsibility because he probably doesn't feel that it is fair that he's to "blame" for the abuse, because he can't control what others say or do. I would have to agree with him.. Every where you go there are going to be rude, ignorant, and just plain cruel people, no matter what you do.. Yeah getting rid of all of the online social media sites would help decrease the amount of abuse but it will not permanently get rid of all of the abuse.

  • sydb-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 10:29 a.m.

    My comment about this whole bullying and cyber bullying stuff is that I think it is beyond ridiculous and that it is just a plan rude. How could you do that to someone knowing that you are saying all this stuff about them to the point where they want to end there life because of all the mean, cruel, harsh and probably untrue stuff about them. There's a thing its called think before you speak and if you don't know for 100% that the stuff is true don't post it any where matter of fact don't post it at all it is none of their business what happens and it doesn't affect your life but it does affect the other persons life when you say all this stuff to them to the point where they want / even think about ending their life. It has gotten out of control parents need to be aware of what there child is posting on a social cite or what is being said about there child. Some people need to grow up and have some respect for people think about it, think what if I was in there shoes how would it make me feel? Would I like all those mean things being said to me? So why do it to someone else.

  • aliap-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 10:34 a.m.

    I think that cyberbullying has such an impact on people and that the students starting a anti-cyberbullying protest are making a good example for people who are being bullied those students are telling the one that's getting bullied to stand up for yourself and we will be by your side the whole time. That's why I totally support the groups and people helping everybody that has to do with any kind of bullying.

  • dyanniq-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 10:35 a.m.

    Cyberbullying is very harmful and does a lot of damage to a person who's being bullied. Kids don't realize that when you're bullying someone online, it's just as bad if not worse than bullying somebody in person. Teenagers have seriously harmed themselves and even have committed suicide from being bullied online and some people still don't see that it's so bad.

  • alext-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 10:36 a.m.

    Cyber-Bullying is a non-acceptable form of children seeking widespread validation. In other words; it means they're seeking attention & they think they're being cool. There is no way in any possible alternate dimension that this is not a big deal. Cyber-Bullying is a crime, even if we don't technically have a law for it, and all crimes need to be dealt with in some way.

  • codyw-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 11:33 a.m.

    I feel that those students who are standing up against the cyber-bullying are extremely brave. It takes some courage to stand up for yourself, but it takes an even greater amount of courage to stand up for someone you don't necessarily hang out with. Also, it takes a great amount of courage to stand up to a enormous company and complain to one of their bosses about their app.

  • nates-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 11:36 a.m.

    The co-founder tried to say that it was the student's fault because the app didn't make them write nasty things about other people, it was just a white canvas for the students.

  • emilyv-Pip
    12/23/2014 - 11:37 a.m.

    The co-founder didn't intend people to commit suicide over this app, but he should have thought it through before making this app public because its very obvious that this app would have been used in a negative way.

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