11 Md. students disciplined for cyberbullying - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

11 Md. students disciplined for cyberbullying

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -

A new state law against cyberbullying in Maryland has already netted its first violators.

School officials at Annapolis High School launched an immediate investigation after someone took a photo of a girl there without her knowledge -- and texted it to friends -- who commented on it.

"This girl, she had fake extensions in from the mall or something and someone took a picture of it, put it on Twitter," says student Caroline Aube.

Some unflattering comments got attached to the picture on Twitter.

"It was ‘white girl with a weave’ -- and I've definitely heard worse," student Grace Engels says.

To the girl in the photo, it was no joke.

"She mentioned that she wanted to kill herself," Engels says.

Within hours of getting wind of the tweets and comments on Monday, Annapolis High School officials had identified 11 students who were involved and notified their parents that they were being disciplined under the state's new law against cyberbullying that went into effect October 1.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools officials will not say exactly how the students were disciplined, but according to the code of student code, the punishment for cyberbullying ranges from an office referral to expulsion.

The students we talked with said their classmates were suspended -- even those who only favored or liked the tweet and didn't comment.

"They're saying it’s kind of ridiculous someone is getting in trouble and getting suspended for favoriting a tweet," Aube says.

Kenneth Martin sees it this way.

"If she feels that she's getting bullied, I think she should tell someone. [There's] a lot of teenagers killing themselves because of cyberbullying," says Martin.

People like 15-year-old Grace McComas of Howard County who committed suicide on Easter in 2012 after weeks of being bullied. The law against cyberbullying, "Grace's Law," is named in her honor.

With 11 disciplined in one incident, school officials are sending a clear message to students that what they post online is being watched and will be acted on if it is inappropriate.


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