Niles High officials investigating anonymous cyberbullying

Published 2:50 pm Friday, November 6, 2015

Niles High School officials are investigating an issue of cyberbullying through the use of anonymous Twitter accounts.

Principal Robin Hadrick said the accounts were set up anonymously for the sole purpose of allowing students to tweet abusive and harmful comments toward other students.

Hadrick said she became aware of the Twitter accounts Wednesday after school staff received complaints from students.

None of the tweets so far, she said, are criminal in nature, nor do they include threats of violence.

“We involved our school liaison officer and he has viewed it and said there is absolutely not [any Tweets criminal in nature],” she said.

Hadrick said because the Twitter accounts allow people to post Tweets anonymously, it is difficult for staff to identify those who are responsible.

No students have been identified at this point, she said.

“We have no way of linking it back to the person that is creating those Tweets or posting those Tweets,” she said.

If a student is found responsible for cyber bullying, Hadrick said he or she could face discipline ranging from in-school suspension to out-of-school suspension to expulsion for a year.

“That is to be determined from our code of conduct hearings,” she said.

Hadrick said they’ve had issues of cyberbullying in the past, but never through the use of anonymous Twitter accounts.

On Friday, the high school sent out an email to parents of students explaining the cyberbullying issue.

The email is reprinted below in its entirety:

Dear High School Parents,

The purpose of this letter is to advise you of a situation our high school staff is investigating involving cyberbullying through the use of Twitter accounts. We know that the accounts were set up anonymously for the sole purpose of allowing students to tweet abusive and harmful comments towards other students. We have spoken with students regarding this issue, stressing the impact of cyberbullying and reminding them of the district’s zero tolerance policy on bullying. Please be assured this kind of activity is not tolerated and there will be severe consequences for those involved in this harmful behavior. We are taking the following proactive steps to address this issue in our efforts to provide a safe learning environment:

• Our administrators, teachers and counselors are having discussions with the students about cyber bulling. We encourage parents to do the same.

• The administration has reported to Twitter the accounts we are aware of as “abusive or harmful” using Twitter’s moderation feature. We encourage parents to make these reports to Twitter as well. The accounts are: Niles Confessions@NHSConfess15 and The Nilly@thenilly16. Our chance of getting them shut down on Twitter depends on the number of reports they receive.

• The administration is working with local law enforcement that will step in if a post appears to be of criminal nature. We encourage parents to do the same if they feel their child has been harmed or threatened.

• While these Twitter accounts are anonymous, the administration is investigating and taking disciplinary action with students whose names have been revealed to us. If you have found factual information that may help us with our investigation, please contact the school.

• The students are blocked from using social media sites through the school’s Internet. Parents can control Internet usage through home devises and data plans.

We encourage you to speak with your children on this matter and to monitor their actions online in hopes of minimizing, if not completely eradicating such activity.

The safety and well being of our students is our primary concern. Thank you in advance for your help and vigilance on this matter and for continuing to serve as our partner in your child’s education.


The NHS Administration