Reporting Meghan McCorkell
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Swift action. Nearly a dozen Anne Arundel County students disciplined, accused of cyberbullying. There have been growing calls for schools to crack down after a series of teen suicides across the country, including here in Maryland.
Meghan McCorkell has more on this latest case.
Officials say school administrators became aware of the cyberbullying incident Monday. By Tuesday, they’d taken action.
Eleven Annapolis High School students weren’t in class Wednesday. The group is accused of cyberbullying. Officials say it started when one student photographed another without their knowledge, then texted the photo to other students with a disparaging comment. The picture was eventually posted to social media, where even more saw it.
“We take bullying and cyberbullying very seriously and the consequences are very strict,” said Bob Mosier, Anne Arundel County Schools.
But students say it still happens.
“I used to go to school with a lot of people who did that constantly, almost every day,” said freshman Margo Wittelsberger.
“It’s just a lot easier because you don’t have to say it to a face. It’s like you’re bullying a computer instead,” said freshman Madison Shannahan.
At the beginning of the month, a new law took effect in the state of Maryland that makes cyberbullying a minor a misdemeanor offense. The law is nicknamed Grace’s Law after 15-year-old Grace McComas. The Howard County teenager killed herself last Easter after she was cyberbullied relentlessly. After Grace’s death, her family lobbied for action.
“I can’t bring her back but I can honor her memory by making sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Grace’s mother Christine McComas told WJZ back in February.
At Annapolis High School, fellow students are happy the school took action.
“That’s what they deserve. They should get in trouble for it; they shouldn’t be doing that to other kids,” said sophomore Crystal Klamar.
School officials say they will continue to crack down on cyberbullying. School officials won’t say which disciplinary action has been taken against the students involved, but say it could range from detention to expulsion.
Maryland state schools have now joined a pilot program with Facebook to try to combat cyberbullying.
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