UPDATE: The principal of Bedford Middle School in Westport has emailed students’ families to alert them about the YouTube video posted by one of the school’s eighth-grade students in which the girl says she has been a target of bullying and issues a plea for it to stop.
Following is the text of the email sent Friday by Principal Melissa Kay:
We are investigating a recent case of cyber bullying. Today, the school counseling staff and I met with the 8th graders in their teams to remind them of internet safety and consequences of cyber bullying. We encourage parents to have similar discussions at home with your children.
Attached is the link to the Internet Safety Workshop recently held at SHS (Staples High School).
There is valuable information specific to cyber bullying in this link.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this.”
HERE’S WHAT SCHOOL OFFICIALS WERE REACTING TO, as reported Friday afternoon on http://www.westport-news.com:
A 13-year-old girl — an eighth-grade student at Bedford Middle School in Westport — has posted a video on the YouTube website pleading for an end to the bullying that she says she has suffered.
The girl, who identifies herself only as “Alye,” is bathed in an eerie orange light in the nearly three-minute video she has titled, “Words are Worse than Sticks and Stones.” It was posted March 14 on the popular video website.
The name on YouTube account is “alyepollack,” and a source confirmed the girl’s name is Alye Pollack.
The girl does not speak in the video, but instead holds up a series of hand-lettered signs stating things like: “I am bullied. Not a day has gone by with one of these words …” and the next sign lists a series of insults and epithets, including, “… Fat, Slut, Freak, Ugly …”
Another signs says, “I don’t have many friends. 3? 4?” She also indicates that she has been sad “since 6th grade.”
Another sign reads, “I am in therapy/guidance more than in my classes” and another states: “I like my school just not the kids” and another, “Will high school get worse???????”
One of the last signs she holds before the camera reads: “HELP” in large capital letters, followed by, “THINK before you say things. IT MIGHT SAVE …” “LIVES,” reads the following sign.
The video had attracted 67 comments posted on YouTube as of Friday afternoon (by midday Saturday, there were nearly 190 comments on the YouTune video), including several that make specific references to Westport.
One comment reads, in part: “Alye, I really think it will be better for you in high school at Staples, I have 3 kids who have gone through and they found it to be a much more liberal and welcoming place than middle school. Middle school is never easy, stay strong and I hope and pray things get better for you.”
And another: “Hi Alye — I was bullied relentlessly for three years at Staples. I can totally understand and relate to how you feel. I am so sorry you have to endure this but trust me, those people who are saying all those hateful things are not worth it. They are all painfully insecure and bullying together makes them feel better. If you ever want to talk, please don’t hesitate to message me! You are not alone!”
The issue of bullying is in the spotlight in Connecticut as new anti-bullying legislation is on its way to the state Senate floor after it was unanimously approved Wednesday by the General Assembly’s Education Committee.
The proposal would require school districts to include online harassment of students, also known as “cyberbullying,” in their anti-bullying policies.
The bill also calls for all school employees to receive training to prevent, identify and respond to bullying.
Under other provisions of the bill, school employees would have to report bullying to the school’s principal or safe school specialist within one school day of learning about or witnessing an incident. The principal or specialist would then have to investigate the issue within 10 days.