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GHS Tackles Cyber-Bullying

Greenwich High School recognizes that cyber-bullying is a growing problem and is trying to do something about it. Some 40 percent of students in the U.S., have been bullied or made fun of over the Internet, according to the Cyber-Bullying Research Center -- and Guidance Director Linda Woods says Greenwich High is no different. GHS juniors Wyatt Davis and Phoebe Krieger-Redwood acknowledge that it's happened to them.

Students who do not align with the "norm" will become a target for other kids. "[Cyber bullying] is something we are addressing and want to help kids understand," she says.

The high school holds a yearly "Class Day" for freshmen where anti-defamation is discussed. Students go into small breakout teams to talk with upper classmen about their thoughts or experiences with bullying.

"Freshman and middle school-aged adolescents are developmentally different from high school kids and tend to be more willing to do what everyone else is doing," says Woods. Lessons learned by talking about bullying at the freshman level will hopefully carry on throughout their high school years, she adds.

Phoebe Krieger-Redwood, a Greenwich High School junior, says Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media allow people to write negative or derogatory things about one another without face-to-face confrontation.

"My only question is, 'Why in the world would someone bully another?' " said Krieger-Redwood. "No one thinks about consequences."

Despite the school's zero tolerance policy regarding harassment, cyber bullying transcends school grounds and follows teens home. In addition, it can be tricky. "It is hard to tell the tone with things online," says Wyatt Davis, a junior. "It gives people a way out."

The biggest issue, Woods says, is that students have a tendency not to reveal that bullying is going on, for fear of the consequences. "Typically, a significant portion of students who are being bullied will not share the information," says Woods. "They are separating with their parents as a confidant and listen to what their friends and peers say."

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