"Bullying, cyber-bullying or any kind of bullying is wrong" said Bruce Campbell, director of communication for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec

Nine Brampton students involved in Twitter attacks

By 
  • November 23, 2012

BRAMPTON, ONT. - Nine high school students in Brampton learned this week that while talk may be cheap, tweeting isn't.

"Over the weekend it came to the attention of the administration at the school that some disparaging, offensive and totally inappropriate comments were directed at specific teachers at St. Marguerite d'Youville School," said Bruce Campbell, director of communication for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. "The school investigated and found nine students involved in a Twitter discussion."

While Campbell wasn't able to say exactly how the school became aware of the comments, he did say in the past students, parents and staff members have brought similar comments to the attention of school administration.

In this case the remarks made ranged from sexually explicit comments to messages of violent aggression directed specifically at three of the school's teachers — two female and one male.

Punishments varied in severity based on the degree in which each student participated in the "extremely derogatory" conversation. The nine were sent home Nov. 21, with five students receiving suspensions — two students hit with seven-day suspensions, the others with two-day suspensions.  

"The remaining two students, who's remarks were the most outrageous, received seven-day suspensions, they have to write letters of apology and they have been removed from the classrooms of those teachers whom these disparaging remarks were directed," said Campbell. "Peel police were actually called in to speak with a couple of them regarding the tone of the remarks. No charges were laid but two students were given a warning."

Campbell said none of the students were known for causing trouble in the past.

"These were good kids who made a bad decision."

Although the board is still developing a policy specifically regarding social media, these comments fall under the Catholic Code of Conduct's section on conduct injurious to the moral tone of the school.

Campbell said there is a good lesson to be learned out of all of this, which the school's principal has been echoing in the morning announcements during Bullying Prevention and Awareness Week in Ontario.

"Bullying, cyber-bullying or any kind of bullying is wrong," said Campbell. "Once you use social media it's not a conversation directly between you and two or three or four friends; it's out there.

"Regardless of whether it's during the day, off time, the weekend or in the summer, if somebody makes remarks directly related to somebody at the school — whether it be faculty, staff, admin or student — they should be aware that that has impact on the moral tone of the school and if we find out about it we're going to act on it."

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