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Teen warns others of cyberbullying on popular website

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SALT LAKE CITY — A growing number of high school aged students have smartphones, and with nearly 170,000 students in ninth through 12th grade that exposes a lot of teens to cyberbullying.

Billye is one of many teens who has been cyberbullied.

"I would cut myself off from the world and be checking my phone every couple of minutes," Billye said.

Taylorsville High School Resource Officer, Chris Walden, said every day is "open season" when it comes to bullying online.

"Cyberbullying now is something that these kids are subject to 24/7, 365, it doesn't matter if they are on spring break or Christmas vacation," Walden said.

Billye said she thought she could emotionally handle what was happening to her, but soon the steady stream of mean comments became too much.

"After a couple of days it was like, this really hurts this needs stop," she said.

Now Billye and her mother, Jaime, want to alert Utah families after unsettling comments were left anonymously on Billye's page. Jaime said the comments were horrible.

"Maybe your mom will die and leave you completely alone," one of the comments read. "Because her father has passed away and they knew that," Jamie said.

"They would hit on my dad passing away or they'd hit on my religion or the fact that I dance," Billye said.

The mother and daughter had no idea who was sending the statements to Billye because they were all being left anonymously on Billye's account.

"These people, kids can say things and they have no consequence because nobody is going to find out who they are," Jaime said.

These people, kids can say things and they have no consequence because nobody is going to find out who they are.

–Jaime, mother of bullied teen

The site is a growing attraction among Utah teenagers. It allows an account holder to receive questions anonymously and then respond. Once a response is sent, the exchange is posted directly to the Internet for anyone to read.

KSL began investigating and while clicking through the site found a way to block anonymous questions. Company representatives said they have recently made it easier to block offensive comments and report inappropriate content.

The Granite School District has had a crash course in after they investigated students' complaints about cyberbullying associated with the site.

"Half Truths, innuendos or even completely false statements have a way of traversing very quickly through a high school," said district spokesman Ben Horsley.

He added the anonymous nature of the bullying makes it tough for schools to identify who is posting the comments.

"When you have that level of anonymity and we don't have the resources to track down who is behind the account, or posing the questions or doing the actual cyberbullying then it becomes very difficult to protect a student," Horsley said.

As the site has started to gain popularity across the state, parents need to be aware of the potential for mean questions and comments being exchanged. After her experience, Billye has a message of her own for other students — delete the account and talk to your family.

"If it is something that is hurtful, tell someone so they can help you out because it is for the best or it'll make you feel a lot better about the situation," she said.


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Debbie Dujanovic


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