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Police, school investigating Instagram bullying of Timpview girls

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PROVO — Police and school officials are investigating a report of cyberbullying involving Timpview High School students on the popular picture social media network Instagram.

The page comes with the hashtag "whorelistnumber" and lists pictures of girls, presumed to all be Timpview High School students, with a number ranking. Some of the comments left under each picture were complimentary; but others make degrading sexual references and may rise to the level of bullying.

After Instagram was notified of the list, it disappeared from its site, but a new page appeared late Thursday. It appeared that it could be from the same creator.

The new account said, "Ford, you won the battle, but not the war." It refers to Assistant Principal Ford White, who discovered the list last week.

The original page's creator posted a note that said: "This is an updated look at the girls of Timpview this school year. This is just someone's opinion so don't get offended. Follow at your own risk."

Timpview Assistant Principal Ford White and his daughter, Madi, were surprised to find her photo on the questionable page after he was alerted to it by a student last week.

"I didn't know until a friend came to me … she was like 'yeah, you're on there," said Madi, a sophomore at Timpview High. "

Madi was relieved to see the comments about her weren't as cruel, but the Instagram account was filled with disparaging comments.

"They were calling it 'the whore list,' and stuff, and I just feel like that was uncalled for," she said. "The fact that they can hide behind the social media, I feel like that definitely encouraged them to say mean things like that, because they would probably never say that to their face."

Protecting your children
Kim Kettle, a clinical social worker with Valley Mental Health, says it's important for parents to take charge in protecting their children from the effects of cyberbullying by knowing the login information for their kids' social media accounts.

"I have to tell you, that is the No. 1 thing," she said. "We have had actual parents ... able to intervene with people who wanted to commit suicide."

For more tips on how to protect your children from online abuse, check out the following links:

White said some of those comments were tough to read, and disappointing.

"We protect those who are targeted, but we also seek to help the kids that are really struggling," White said.

He said he keeps tabs on these cases with his own social media presence, and he had warned parents about this most recent one.

"That stuff can go on for a long time, and it's totally unbeknownst to the adult public, and that's why it's so shocking when it actually comes to light," White said.

Provo City School District officials said they are investigating the site.

"Provo City School District is committed to prevent bullying, including cyberbullying in our schools, and providing a safe environment for our students. This matter is being looked into and more information can be provided at a future point," said district spokesman Caleb Price.

Provo police confirmed Thursday that they have launched their own investigation.

A search of Instagram accounts shows there are several tied to Timpview High School, including pages for Timpview's "sexiest," "cutest couple," "stud muffins" and "hot guys." Many of the comments are complimentary and not all appear to have bullying remarks. Other pages that students said at one time existed include titles such as "odd hookups" and "uggliest."

Teens posting pictures of their peers for others to comment on is not exclusive to Timpview High School or even Instagram. There are also Instagram pages of students from Orem and Mountain View high schools.

Contributing: Shara Park

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