Dealing with the complex world of cyber bulling can be difficult for a teacher, and even more so for a young student on the other end of hateful comments being spread through social media. Many offer advice about how to deal with the issues if you are the one being bullied, but what about friends of those being bullied or other children who just want to help?
Last year a student approached Excelsior Middle School leadership teacher Kimberly Karr with just that question. What could the young student do to help stop the problem?
"A student had put up a fake Facebook page about teacher at the school," Karr said.
"Lots of students had seen the Facebook page, but didn't know how to respond."
The answer, according to Karr, is for the students to respond by telling the bully that what they have done isn't cool, and that they should take down the page.
The incident inspired a program called "#ICanHelp."
The program teaches that deleting negativity and bullying on social media and promoting positive responses to bulling.
Through assemblies, social media, presentations and online videos, Karr hopes to empowers students throughout California and the United States to control the influences in their lives.
In her teachings Karr uses three main steps online, including posting only positive messages, reporting inappropriate posts and stopping negative talk with positivity. Karr said the program is teaching students to take the power back.
"Kids are bombarded with social media every day," she said.
"With this comes bullying, negativity and hatred.
During a developmental time where insecurities rule, kids and teens seek approval and find self-worth through online interactions negative comments, inappropriate pictures and mistaken posts last forever online, and can follow a bullied teen to school, and back home again."
Since the program's inception, eighth-grader Sami Gibbs has been involved in getting the word out with her fellow members of the Excelsior leadership committee.
"From the beginning of the program, I've been hooked on it," Sami said. "I made a good choice getting involved in the program. It has really changed my outlook on social media."
Sami said she hopes that everyone listen, students and adults, and abide by the message the #ICanHelp is trying to relay.
Karr is looking for monetary support to help with the program and has set up a Go Fund Me page at http://www.gofundme.com/icanhelp.
The group hopes to raise $3,000 to pay for a website, T-shirts, a power-point presentation that can be shown to other students in classes for all grades, stickers and more to promote their program.
Other schools have been getting involved in the program. Kimball High School students in Tracy helped the group make a video with information about the program that can be seen on the Go Fund Me page.
Karr also put together the program's own Facebook page with information on upcoming features and other information at www.facebook.com/icanhelpdeletenegativity.
Karr and the leadership committee at Excelsior Middle School is inviting everyone to attend "Make a Difference Become a Positive Warrior"from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Excelsior Middle School Theater, 14301 Byron Highway, Byron.
The discussion-based event will feature information on cyber bullying and what can be done to make a difference. To help or contribute, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.