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School Police Urge Parents to Document Kids' Cyber-Bullying

(Springfield, MO) -- School bullies have been around for years, but now with access to social media sites like Facebook, many students say the harassment starts online, away from the classroom when school is out. 
(Springfield, MO) -- School bullies have been around for years, but now with access to social media sites like Facebook, many students say the harassment starts online, away from the classroom when school is out. 

Briana Billings, 15, can hardly stand to read some of the cyber threat she's been getting. Up until a few weeks ago, she thought the bullying just existed on Facebook.

"She started talking to her friends about beating me up and trying to put her hands on me."

But after months of messages sent online, she says the classmate switched from typing and took matters into her own hands at Springfield Central High.

"She started pulling my hair and beating me in the back of the head."

School administrators say the student was suspended from school and now faces assault charges. Briana's mom says she's never seen her daughter so down.

"When it keeps going on and on, it plays on somebody, especially kids," says Tanya Lee.
Lee says she considered bringing the online messages to administrators' attention, but her daughter asked her not to.

"She thought it would make it worse, that she's a tattletale."

Tom Tucker, Director of School Police Services, says by documenting cyber-bullying, parents can prove there's a problem.

"Parents need to go ahead and save that kind of material," he says. "Copy the Facebook and bring that in."

Tucker says the district tries to help students mediate when it comes to bullying. He says had the district known about the threats against Briana, it would have taken action.

"The problem is a lot of times it comes back to be settled or discussed on school property."

While Briana tries to block the bullying by text, she says she's still concerned about the threats in person.

"I want to be able to walk through the halls without girls coming up from behind me, or to my face and wanting to hurt me."

Bullying, she says, has gone far beyond her computer.

Springfield Public Schools' bullying policy recommends students involved mediate under the supervision of a counselor. The district says it's only responsible for addressing cyber threats that describe a potential attack on school grounds.
    
According to the National Parent-Teacher Association, parents should ask questions and get involved when there is an issue of bullying. It also recommends to handle the situation calmly and document all cases of bullying.
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