Cyber bullying and Facebook addressed at Byram school

| 15 Feb 2012 | 11:10

BYRAM — On Dec. 15, Byram Intermediate School students learned a thing or two about cyber-bullying and sites like Facebook. Their comments are telling. “I know not to be a jokester," said one student, "because cyber-bullying hurts.” “I didn’t know a few nasty comments could end someone’s life,” said another. Thanks to funds provided in part by the Lenape Valley Municipal Alliance, students in grades fifth through eighth participated in an internet safety program called “Hooked On Facebook.” Presented by speaker Josh Gunderson, the goal of the program was to help students identify how to use social networking sites like Facebook safely and responsibly. As part of the school’s anti-bullying curriculum, the program was chosen to help highlight cyber-bullying as the theme for the month of December. Classroom lessons, poster and school slogan contests, special guest speakers and other activities throughout the year are all geared toward helping students stand up against bullying. Messages ranged from the importance of using privacy settings on your Facebook page to how your posts might affect others. Gunderson asked students to think about the effect cyber-bullying can have on young people. Students understood how easily their reputations can be changed online and that online posts can't be taken back once they're out in cyber-space. Gunderson shared the tragic story of high school student Phoebe Prince who was targeted online and eventually committed suicide. Many students commented on her story, stating that it helped them realize cyber-bullying can lead to consequences they never thought possible. “I didn’t know cyber-bullying made people feel so tormented that they committed suicide,” said one student.