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School district, local law enforcement stress the consequences of cyberbullying

Aiken County Public Schools and local law enforcement are urging students to be aware of cyberbullying and to know the consequences of taking part in any form of bullying and/or making threats online.

The school district’s bullying policy defines harassment, intimidation or bullying as a gesture, electronic communication or a written, verbal, physical or sexual act reasonably perceived to have the effect of either of the following:

Harming a student physically or emotionally or damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of personal harm or property damage.

Insulting or demeaning a student or group of students in such a manner as to cause substantial disruption in or substantial interference with the orderly operation of the school.

Captain Maryann Burgess, with the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said the online threats within Aiken County schools has been a common issue but emphasized its a common issue nationwide.

“Most common online problems are inappropriate use of photos, video and parents not policing what their kids are doing online,” Burgess said.

Burgess urged students who are returning to school to not participate in online bullying and reminded students that they can be criminally responsible as well as suffer severe consequences at the school district level.

The school district policy further states that any student or employee who is found to have engaged in bullying of any form will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion in the case of a student. Individuals may also be referred to law enforcement officials.

The school district may take actions for bullying initiated off-campus involving the inappropriate use of the internet or web-based sources, the policy states.

Any students who feel they have been subjected to harassment, intimidation or bullying is encouraged to file a complaint with the principal or his/her designee, the policy states.

All school employees are required to report alleged instances of harassment, intimidation or bullying to the principal or designated superior.

Matthew Enfinger is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_enfinger 

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