Casa Grande High School junior Michell Consulter has been a victim of cyber bullying. Photo by Itxaso Garay of Casa Grande High

By LUCY SLAVIN and KELSEY MATZEN
CASA GRANDE HIGH SCHOOL

Harsh words. Cruel rumors. Offensive slurs.
These are aspects of bullying that are enhanced by the anonymity the Internet provides. To see the insults presented in such a clinical way is more heartbreaking than when confronted in person.
As popularity of social networking websites and communicating over the Internet has grown, so has cyber bullying. Accounts of abuse on the Internet have caused emotional and physical damage.
Casa Grande High School junior Michell Consulter has experienced these cutting words and frightening threats.
Consulter has noticed the growing trend of online bullying.
“I think it has increased because social network sites are popular, and people feel like they can hide behind computers instead of confronting people, which is pathetic,” she said.
She recognizes this form of bullying is related to problems caused by gossip.
“Sophomore year, two girls in one of my classes threatened to beat up my friend and me because of rumors,” Consulter said.
Consulter’s friend, sophomore Rebekah Noriel, experienced the same abuse, although she wasn’t scared. She was angry.
“I don’t think that they would have actually done anything,” Noriel said. “It made me mad that they couldn’t just talk to us.”
The messages that were sent were intimidating and violent. The situation could have been mended with mediation between the two parties.
“Instead of confronting us about it, they waited until the first day of winter break to start sending us messages, saying how they were going to beat us up, bring guns to school and kill us,” Consulter said.
The abuse directed at Consulter and Noriel became so extreme that they were forced to seek help from school administrators, resulting in the suspension of one of the girls threatening them.
“Class was becoming awkward,” Consulter said. “We all had to talk to the assistant principal.”
Debates about how to stop cyber bullying continues. Noriel believes it offers many opportunities to attack others, so it gives people the confidence they need to bully others. They don’t think they will get in trouble.
“If cyber bullying is going to stop, there needs to be consequences for people who do it,” Noriel said.
Consulter belives fighting over the Internet is pointless and fails to solve problems.
“If you want to say something, say it to the person’s face, not their computer screen,” she said.

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CYBER BULLYING: HELP
If you or someone you know is being cyber bullied:
–Ask the bully to stop.
–Save the evidence and report it to a trusted adult, such as a parent or teacher.
–Block the person sending the messages.
In order to avoid cyber bullying:
–Never tell your password to anyone, even a best friend.
–Never share personal information when online, especially with strangers.
–Be careful of friend selection on social networking sites.