Cyber Bullying: 'With Each Post, Another Girl Left Class To Cry In The Bathroom'

A student at Staples High School in Westport, Conn., describes an alarming scene caused by cyber bullying on Yik Yak.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
By Gary Jeanfaivre

It was like something straight out of the movies. 

Kids were walking down the hall, cell phones in hand, looking up, staring and pointing at unsuspecting peers. 

But this was no movie. It was real, and it was a horrifying reminder of just how cruel some kids can be and how quickly cyber bullying can deliver a crushing blow to youngsters who value so highly what their peers think of them.

The scene was Staples High School in Westport, Conn., and the medium of choice for this cyber assault was a new app called Yik Yak

What's Yik Yak?

Yik Yak describes itself as a sort of local bulletin board. It allows anyone to connect and share information with others without having to know them, as long as you're within a certain distance of each other — a 1.5 mile radius.

"News, funny experiences, shout outs, and jokes spread faster than ever through Yik Yak’s tight-knit community," the app says.

But it has been far from all fun and games for many schools, including at Staples last week when a surge of activity on the app spiraled out of control. 

A Student Speaks Out

In a column published on New York Magazine's website, student Will Haskell provides a glimpse into how "A Gossip App Brought My High School to a Halt."

"With each post, another girl left class to cry in the bathroom, vent to her guidance counselor, or drive home," he writes.

And it just got worse as the day went on, to the point that Staples High Principal John Dodig reportedly took to the PA system to make an impassioned plea for students to stop using and looking at the app.

That backfired. And Dodig became a target on the app, too, Haskell writes. Two posts reportedly wrote:

  • “Mr. Dodig molested me with a weed wacker.”
  • “John Dodig touched my no-no parts.”

The attacks against students were even more hurtful and personal.

Staples Not the First, and Likely Not the Last to Deal With This

Yik Yak's founders, two recent college graduates, told Fox News that the app was created in December with a core audience of university students in mind. Yet the app has found its way into high schools across America, and many districts, like Westport and neighboring town Fairfield, are scrambling to address the issues it brings.

“Upon researching this we have learned that Yik Yak has been causing many issues at middle schools, high schools, and colleges around the country,” Fairfield Public Schools wrote in a message to the community. “The issues range from bullying behavior, racial harassment, sexual harassment, to bomb threats and threats of physical violence.”

Fairfield successfully lobbied Yik Yak to block the app from its three middle schools and two high schools, according to Fox News. Westport was able to do the same, writes Haskell, a senior.

“We’re proactively trying to keep high schoolers off the app,” Yik Yak co-founder Tyler Droll told Fox News. “It’s being used very well at colleges. We think psychologically high schoolers aren’t ready to use our app.”

'No One Was Safe'

"I remember when Formspring and Honesty Box infiltrated my middle school hallways. But Yik Yak felt different," Haskell writes. "It wasn’t just a new tool for the school’s bullies; it was also an equalizer. No one was safe, regardless of his or her place on the social pyramid."

He continues: "In conversations with our teachers, guidance counselors, and parents, we constantly hear, 'We didn’t have this when we were growing up.' Well, neither did we. Yik Yak and its capacity for anonymous, targeted destruction is new to all of us."

"Are we just supposed to ignore it?" he asks. 

Share your thoughts in the comments below, and read his column in its entirety here.
Cassandra April 30, 2014 at 10:04 AM
Here's an idea.. NO phones allowed in school. And I know all the parents will scream how will they get ahold of us? They are in school to learn! They don't need phones! How about giving authority back to the teachers and principals. We have allowed the children of the world to rule it all. It's a world of zero consequences for terrible actions. With parents who are to busy with their careers, dating, partying to take the time to #1. teach their children right from wrong. #2. Hold the children accountable for their bad behavior #3. Watch and control what their children are doing online. I've heard parents say it's infringing on their privacy! Privacy with children is overrated you give them a rope and it's a 50-50 chance they hang themselves with it.. They ARE children and need parents guidance in all areas of life, children don't have the experience to raise themselves. But that is the case in the world today.
Darla Tagrin April 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM
It's bad that kids are doing this, but no one seems to care that the "old fashioned" bullying by the kids on the top of the social pyramid goes on. This is a social equalizer, and the results are not pretty. The kids who have been bullied in the past are acting like the kids who bullied them and no one seemed to care about that enough to make a serious attempt to stop it.
Krista Cole April 30, 2014 at 12:59 PM
Ok, here's an idea. Have the school's network admin set up a firewall that will BLOCK all communication for the port Yik Yak uses PERIOD within the school. While they are at it, they can block Fbook, and Twitter at school. Yeah, it's SCHOOL. Then, as the next science project, have someone come into school and teach kids how to write programs with Java, and have a contest for the application that does the most good for the world. Sell tickets to TechAwardsShow and use the funds to pay for the network work mentioned above. Spread it to the local newspapers, like PATCH. DONE. :-)
jfc May 01, 2014 at 07:16 PM
If my kid was being bullied on a social media site, I'll make them DELETE their account.


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