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CPS Starts Cyberbullying Program

For the first time in 15 years, teenager suicides are spiking. The increase comes with the rise in cyberbullying and in Columbia, administrators are cracking down.Columbia Public Schools is trying to combat the trend with their annual “You Matter” campaign. The campaign hopes to stop bullies from continuing the harassment online. CPS discovered that nine out of ten middle school students say they have been a victim of cyberbullying. Parents, teachers and even some kids say that is something they want to see change.School officials say middle school students are most at risk and while children in the past could go home and leave their troubles behind, today’s hateful messages follow students all day long.”We’ve had a large response of kids saying, ‘yes, in my life, I have been bullied,'” said CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark. “But in a cross section, they say they haven’t bullied anyone. And so what that tells us is that they don’t realize that what they say and what they do can be hurtful to other people.”Therefore the district is initiating an intervention by launching a campaign to help kids be more aware of how words can hurt.Some students told ABC 17 News they have read hurtful comments online that have made them uncomfortable. One student said she and her friends who have experienced similar things online have learned to put a stop to it.”They told their parents and try not to have that person, like block them or make sure they are not online with them,” said sixth grader Kelsey Mize.However, because most cyberbullying happens outside of school grounds, officials say they want students to be more responsible.”I hope they come away with how to be more kind to each other and appreciate others and maybe create a better social environment around themselves,” said Baumstark.The campaign will also teach students how to stay away from drugs. The program happens once a year and today, 50 select students from each of the district’s three middle schools were a part of it.

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