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Published January 18, 2012, 08:00 PM

Grand Forks Students Aim to Put a Stop to Cyberbullying

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Cyberbullying has become a significant problem in the past few years. Some teens in Grand Forks are hoping to help ease the hurt.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Cyberbullying has become a significant problem in the past few years. Some teens in Grand Forks are hoping to help ease the hurt.

Students on the Grand Forks Youth Commission are coming up with several ways to raise awareness about the issue. Internet safety is one of their top priorities this year.

"It doesn't just happen online, it carries over to the hallways of our school and the lunchrooms and lunch tables," commission member Jessica Swanson said.

Nearly one in five high school students say they have been cyber-bullied. Students like Jessica Swanson hope to help people understand the affect those harsh posts have on others.

"I've seen relationships end and people say very hurtful things that I'm not sure if they know the effects of it, but it's wrong," Swanson said.

"It's a bigger deal than people think and just putting it out there for good," commission member Mandi Egeland said.

According to a study by the State Department of Public Instruction, more than 18 percent of Grand Forks students in grades 9 through 12 have been cyber-bullied in the past year.

"What we like to do is look at this as an opportunity to educate and make things better as they move forward with the technical pieces. Also, as parents, to certainly be involved with whatever children are doing," Valley Middle School assistant principal Chris Douthit said.

Over 25 percent of students in 7th and 8th grade have been bullied online, up more than five percent in just two years.

Students and faculty hope they can help make a difference and put a stop to bullying online, starting with pamphlets for parents.

"Tips for Facebook, Twitter, how to handle it, privacy settings, how to talk with your child about cyberbullying and the relationship you need with them," Egeland said.

"If students have ownership, there's a belonging and acceptance being delivered by peers who understand it much better than we do because they are the ones who are living through it, we are not," Douthit said.

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