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Mary Ellen had just started ninth grade. New school, new boyfriend, all good. Then the instant messages started. “I hate you. Everyone hates you.
Go back to your school.”
“Mary Ellen’s grades went from A’s
to C’s,” says her mom, Mary Lou Handy.
“She cried and begged to switch to another
“At first I told her to just shake it off.
But she was so stressed out—she got to the
point of developing acid reflux and ulcers.
Mary Ellen’s problems surfaced a few
years ago, when cyberbullying was new
and educators didn’t think it was a school
matter. Today, schools are all too familiar
with the problem—and dealing with it can
“Most of the time, cyberbullying
happens off school property on students’
Aftab is a proponent of getting students
directly involved in developing programs
to address and limit cyberbullying and in
learning how to use digital technology and
social media responsibly. She calls this
Recent high-profile cases in which
teens have committed suicide in the wake
of cyberbullying have shown the most
dire consequences of a problem that’s
now commonplace. While cyberbullying
numbers are, at best, guesstimates—
because young people rarely report
incidents and each person defines it
differently—in studies, between 20 and 85
percent of teens and preteens report having
been the target of cyberbullying. Those
stats spell big trouble for young people,
but some educators have found effective
methods in the fight against cyberbullies.
“I hate you. Everyone
hates you. Go back to