OK, so with the kids starting middle school, and with the girl already having a Facebook page (she’s too young for it, in my opinion, but her mom gave her the go-ahead), I have started to explain to them the damage that cyber bullying can do. She is 11, but I can already see the “mean girls” attitudes starting to show themselves in some of her friends (as a guy, I was oblivious to this while in school, so I couldn’t say when it usually starts). When I told her (the boy was happily zoning out with some game on his iTouch), she seemed genuinely shocked by what kinds of torment is dished out “all in good fun” and the harm it can cause.
So when I came across this item this morning, it made me think immediately of what I have been trying to convey to my kids and to not let it stand unchallenged (from WTAE-Pittsburgh):
Jennifer McKendrick, a self-employed photographer in Indian County, Pa. is a photographer who, among other things, shoots portraits for the local high school yearbook. When, by happenstance, she saw four high school seniors bullying other kids on an anonymous Facebook page that went beyond just name-calling, she decided to do something about it.
“It was beyond ‘your clothes are ugly’ or ‘you don’t have any brand clothes’ or ‘you are ugly, your hair is not right.’ It was vicious. It was talking about sexuality,” McKendrick said.
McKendrick was scheduled to take the four senior girls’ yearbook portraits but instead keeping the appointments, she took screen shots of the online comments and sent them to her clients’ parents, saying she saw their children’s behavior on the Internet and was canceling their sessions and refunding their $200 deposits.
“I got a couple responses that said ‘thank you for letting them know,’ that they were unaware what was going on and that they would take care of it,” said McKendrick.
Below is an example of a letter that McKendrick sent to parents:
“I am writing to cancel your shoot scheduled _________ due to some recent events brought to my attention. After stumbling upon a Facebook page called (name removed), I witnessed mean and cruel behavior coming from _______. I am returning your depositing of $212.00 and I’m afraid you will need to find another photographer for your daughters senior photos. I want to protect the image of my business and the mean and hurtful things she has said on there is not the type of client I want to represent my business. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and I hope you understand my reasons for doing so. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this matter any further.”
Good show, Ms. McKendrick. I hope you get much more business for taking this stand and losing four sessions. I also hope those four girls learned something, too.