Cyber-bullying gaining popularity in local schools

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What's happening at school

MESA -- "I see bullying everywhere" 8th grader Josh Mcintosh says.

"People pushing other kids around and hitting them for no reason." 6th grader Markus Conway recalls.

Shane Aranda, a 6th grader, describes it as "a group of people like just pushing one kid and telling him he's not cool or he's not good enough."

From school to neighborhoods these kids have seen bullying in many places.

Josh says that bullying has grown into the online culture.

"On the internet, because I have a web cam, you see it there too."

With the accessibility and popularity of camera and video cell phones and the world wide web, "cyber-bullying" is unfortunately, a growing trend.

"Its really awful and its ugly and inappropriate" says Michelle Grimaldi, a prevention counselor with the Mesa school district.

She says our high-tech world has brought on lowly forms of cyber- bullying such as "flaming" means sending cruel and vicious comments directly to someone online.

"There's also masquerading where you pretend you're somebody else and you send out ugly information and its really not from that person."

Physical attacks on an unsuspecting victim while it's being recorded is referred to as "happy slapping."

Then there's "denigration" - posting pictures of others online with mean comments or cruel gossip.

"We've had somebody take pictures of other students on a bus and post them on the internet with inappropriate sayings, these are things that are not tolerated." Grimaldi says.

Problems like this are among the reasons the Mesa school district teaches a class called "netiquette" starting in the 5th grade.

"Its really appropriate to teach kids at a very young level about safety and the right way to use technology."

A DVD narrated from a 4th grade student in the district is part of the program.

"Its really important that kids know those words hang out forever and they can be very damaging."

For parents, the best way to fight such bullying, is to monitor the technology your child is using.

"The moment you know something has happened, even if your child is the victim, reporting it to the police or your internet provider"