Pickens Co. Schools encourages parents to talk to kids about cyberbullying

Tresia Bowles reports.
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 6:32 PM EDT
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PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The Pickens County School District is asking parents to talk to their children about cyberbullying.

The principal sent a letter to parents, more than once, asking them to discuss student’s social media activity after some complaints.

Some believe this is a parenting issue, while others think the school district should step in.

Haley Willoughby’s son received SnapChat messages that say “Don’t let me catch you slacking” and “I’ll shoot you.”

“He’s received death threats. He’s received accusations of sexual harassment. He’s received threats of being jumped by multiple kids, called names,” Willoughby said.

Pickens County Schools District’s communications representative Darian Byrd says this isn’t a new issue.

“We’re seeing this more and more with elementary schools. And I believe this is not just a Pickens County issue,” Byrd said.

Byrd understands, because he’s also a former principal. He says the schools don’t allow students to use phones or social media in class, and for good reason.

“There are age limits. And there’s a reason there are age limits, because,” Byrd continues, “Children that age don’t have the executive function to able to make decisions.”

Byrd says nor do students understand how it affects their future. SnapChat, TikTok, and Instagram’s age requirement is 13. Fifth-graders are usually aged 10 to 11.

Willoughby took action first. She says she never permitted her son to have an account.

“I did end up taking his social media away,” Willoughby said, “He’s no longer allowed to have SnapChat. And I did put the locks on his phone.”

She encourages other parents to use the parental locks on phones and social media. However, she feels there is something the school district can do, because hurt people, hurt people.

“The schools should be stepping up and doing a little bit more as far as counseling, and getting these kids help, and listening to these kids about what they’re telling them is going on on social media,” Willoughby said.

Byrd says the district can monitor the school’s issued devices, but much of these interactions happen off school grounds. And while they will do what they can, they hope parents will do their part too.

“It’s really difficult for us to be the only ones setting these boundaries. So, please, we beg for your support in being proactive and monitoring” Byrd said, “So that the school’s not alone in this.”

Byrd says the schools have counseling services available.