Photo by Curt Yeomans Eighth-graders at Forest Park Middle School act out a skit, depicting how students can bully a person by making them feel alienated, during an anti-bullying assembly at the school, on Dec. 10.
The idea of banning cell phones was mentioned during a recent town hall in Gadsden County, focused on bullying. WCTV sat down with school officials and talked to students to see if they believe banning cell phones on campus altogether, would stop bullying.
Although using cell phones is prohibited in Gadsden County Schools between the bells, Juvenile Justice Deputy Tiffany Parsons says students are still using them during the school day and in some cases to bully other kids.
Tiffany Parsons Juvenile Justice Deputy for the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office says, "A lot of the bullying with teenagers now is through the cell phone. Kids are more apt to threaten a child or taunt a child through text message than actually walking up to that child and actually threatening them. That's what we're seeing."
Educators say this has been a nationwide trend. "The physical student and the cyber student are one in the same. While they may not say something directly to a student, but they may send a text or they may do it via instant message. Parents and students need to remember what you do online is just like doing it in person and that is where the consequences lie," says Shaia Beckwith James spokesperson for Gadsden County Schools.
We asked some middle school students if they thought banning cell phones from campus would make a difference, they said:
"No, I don't think cell phones should be banned from schools because most cyber bullying happens outside of school," says Nydia McSwain.
Jaelen Jackson says, "Even if you ban cell phones, cyber bullying would still go on."
"Cell phones shouldn't be banned for emergencies with students. Maybe they have to call their parents," says Hunter McFarland.
Crystal Powell says, "Banning cell phones from schools I don't think would really help us."
Educators say when parents play an active role, like checking their children's text messages and online accounts, they can prevent them from being a bully or from being a victim.
"A lot pf parents don't' know that their children are being bullied because they are not aware of their face book page or they're not reading their face book page or they're not going through text messages to see if there us any alarm or concern, says, Parsons.
Deputies say there have been some cases in the district but not any more than what is normal for any school district. Administrators say they're seeing is more emotional bullying and less physical bullying.
Gadsden County School officials say there is a no tolerance policy for bullying and students as well as parents must sign a code of conduct at the beginning of the school year