Australian teens who have witnessed the devastating effects of Internet cruelty firsthand are now calling for dedicated social media classes and peer training about the impacts of cyber bullying. The Northern Messenger spoke with students from Fremont-Elizabeth City High School in the wake of a Facebook page that detailed explicit sexual rumors about students at the school. The page has since been shut down, but not before it prompted copycat pages, referred to as “Burn Books,” targeting other Australian schools.

Shannen, a Fremont-Elizabeth sophomore, said the people who set up the pages – and those who commented – were “hiding behind the screen”. She suggested starting a student representative program to help students who were affected by cyber bullying. “If we get through to students at a young age, hopefully we can teach them about how to handle themselves online and what the impact of what they write can be,” she said.

Principal Peta Kourbelis said teachers would sit down with students this week to discuss ways to curb cyber bullying. “We will discuss whether they want a representative group to help tackle these issues or certain classes,” she said. “I’ll then take their ideas to the governing council where we can make a decision.” Ms. Kourbelis said it was heartening to know the students came to teachers when they found out about the page. “Most of the students were very upset by the whole thing. It’s great to know they want to work towards making sure it doesn’t happen again.”

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