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Cyberbullies target young locals

Facebook pages are crude, vulgar

Staff Writer

LENWOOD • A concerned Lenwood parent is calling for action after several Facebook pages appeared online recently featuring vulgar and sexually-suggestive insults attached to photos of local high school girls and boys — some as young as 14 years old.

The pages, with names like “Barstow’s Famous,” “Barstow’s Fakest” and “Barstow’s Ratchets,” contain numerous photos of local teenagers seemingly taken from their personal Facebook pages.

Above each photo, the page creator has written a derisive comment, criticizing everything from the person’s physical appearance to their personality to their alleged sexual activity. Almost all are too crude to print.

The parent, who opted to remain nameless, said some of the photos were of her young daughter and her friends.

All three pages were down as of Friday, but that isn’t to say they won’t appear again. In fact, “Barstow’s Famous” reappeared Thursday with an apparent mocking headline that read: “I’M BACK [expletive]! YOU WON’T EVER GET RID OF ME! NEVER TRUST ANYONE ;)”

Barstow Police Detective Keith Libby said if the perpetrator(s) were caught, current law authorizes suspension or expulsion from school, or even a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail based on two separate penal codes that would account for such bullying when no actual threats are issued.

Libby urged parents to report violations like these to Facebook and keep a record of them, and advised anyone to stand their ground.

“You have to stand up to it,” he said. “But you don’t have to acknowledge that it is as effective as the bully wants it to be.”

Somber cases of cyberbullying from around the world in recent years — in which young men and women have gone to great lengths to inflict virtual pain onto others, often with real consequences — have raised awareness of their severity and sparked protests against their frequency.

Just earlier this month, a 16-year-old high school sophomore near Tampa Bay killed herself after disparaging comments continued to be made toward her on the social networking site, Ask.fm.

And who could forget the October suicide of Amanda Todd, the 15-year-old Vancouver girl who posted an anti-bullying video on YouTube only weeks before her death?

In Sweden, several hundred youths protested Internet bullying outside a school in Gothenburg on Tuesday. The protest was in reaction to a rumor that a student at the school was responsible for an account on the photo-sharing site Instagram that had not-so-subtly called into question the promiscuity of scores of young girls and boys.

In an email, the concerned Lenwood parent said, ultimately, she was worried about her daughter — and anyone else’s child who may ever be affected by bullying.

“The level of bullying that goes on in this town is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life,” she said. “And the cyberbullying is extreme.”


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