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Editorial: Anonymity gives school bullies a place to hide

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Nothing is more terrifying to an adolescent than a bully.

And nothing is more appealing to a bully than anonymity. Any doubts can be summed up in the term and prevalence of cyberbullying.

That’s why the well-meaning anti-bully texting program planned for Las Cruces Public schools could raise more problems than it solves.

Starting this fall, middle and high school students will be able to use a mobile app to text messages, photos and video to school officials.

Anonymously.

The goal of the TipSoft program, according to the district’s lead psychologist, Dr. Martin Greer, is to immediately address bullying, suicidal students, fights, drugs and other on-campus incidents. “It gives freedom for reporters to not have to worry about being identified so the school office or administration can respond to it.”

It will also give freedom to report that student who stole your boyfriend, got your spot on the team, wouldn’t help you cheat on the quiz, refused to hide your pot or just plain rubs you the wrong way. One text and you’ll show them.

Greer says a third of middle school students and a fifth of high school students reported bullying on state surveys, and “we want it to stop. This is one more way we’re trying to help kids.”

Unfortunately, it may help bullies more – not to mention cultivating the Orwellian snitch culture.

Protecting identities is one thing, offering anonymity another. As the district works out the details of the program’s implementation, it should consider whether its plans will have the opposite effect of curtailing school bullying.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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