Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Online Attack on Students ' a Crime'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Online Attack on Students ' a Crime'

Article excerpt

North Haledon police are trying to find out who launched a cyberbullying attack on several Manchester Regional High School students last month using the photo sharing network Instagram.

The attack came in a Jan. 13 online "chat" and targeted several students, prompting five families to complain to police.

In New Jersey, hiding behind a computer screen or cellphone to launch a personal attack against others violates the state's Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying policy that each school district, including Manchester Regional, adopted last year.

Someone created a page on Instagram on Jan. 13 called "MRHS_FAKES" and posted photos of a half-dozen students with vicious personal remarks. Several girls were labeled "lesbians" and called "fat" or "ugly"; one girl was urged to kill herself, according the parents of some of the victims who spoke with The Record.

The parents, who spoke on the condition that their names not be used to protect the identity of their children, said the attacks were not limited to girls. One boy, who is autistic, also was the target of epithets, they said.

The attacks hit their mark when many of the intended victims and their friends read them online -- which prompted parents of five victims to go to police.

"My daughter was embarrassed to go to school the next day. I've never seen her so upset," said the parent of one girl. "My daughter is very sweet. It's a pretty sick kid who's doing something like this."

The postings were so deeply personal that many parents suspect that they could only be the work of another Manchester Regional student. One of the postings exposed a girl as having previously cut herself -- and then urged her to go all the way and kill herself.

"When someone is urging a kid to commit suicide, that's something that you have to take very seriously," the parent said.

Detective Dave Parenta confirmed the investigation on Tuesday and said he's working with the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office. …

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