OCEAN CITY, Md. - Maryland has joined with Facebook in an effort to stop cyber bullying in local schools.
The launch of the pilot Facebook initiative, also called the Educator Escalation Channel, is designed to streamline reporting of potential cyber bullying occurrences on Facebook that may not be resolved through the social media site’s normal reporting process or demands more immediate attention.
As part of the program, unveiled in part by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, each school system will identify a single point person responsible for direct communications with Facebook. All educators are urged to first report questionable or prohibited content through the standard reporting mechanism.
If the issue is not resolved within 24 hours, educators should contact their school system's designated point person to accelerate the report through the Educator Escalation Channel. (Educators should immediately contact local law enforcement if the situation is believed to be an emergency.)
"Too often, we read headlines about cyber bullying that inflicts serious emotional trauma on children, or worse yet, ends in tragedy," said Gansler in a statement. "We can no longer brush off these episodes and we must reject a 'kids will be kids' mentality that ignores how to confront this troubling trend. I commend Facebook for working with us to give educators a more streamlined way to report possible instances of cyber bullying among their students."
The program, which Facebook helped unveil at the Maryland Association of Boards of Education in Ocean City, coincides with the start of National Bullying Prevention Month. It also comes just two days after legislation that cracks down on teen cyber bullying took effect in Maryland.
Grace's Law is named after 15-year-old Grace McComas, a Howard County teen who took her own life in April 2012 after constant online harassment. The law makes bullying a minor on social media sites a misdemeanor offense.
Gansler said he hopes this program will eventually be one that can be modeled by other states nationally.
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