App brings cyber bullying to a whole new level - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

App brings cyber bullying to a whole new level

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Oxford School District Supt. Brian Harvey says the Yik Yak app allows students within a five-mile radius to send and post messages to the app anonymously. Oxford School District Supt. Brian Harvey says the Yik Yak app allows students within a five-mile radius to send and post messages to the app anonymously.
Last week, the superintendent of Oxford School District sent a letter to the editor of the Oxford Eagle warning parents about Yik Yak. Last week, the superintendent of Oxford School District sent a letter to the editor of the Oxford Eagle warning parents about Yik Yak.
OXFORD, MS -

(WMC-TV) – At least one Mid-South school district is having problems with a new app that brings cyber bullying to a whole new level.

Last week, the superintendent of Oxford School District sent a letter to the editor of the Oxford Eagle warning parents about Yik Yak.

Oxford School District Supt. Brian Harvey says the Yik Yak app allows students within a five-mile radius to send and post messages to the app anonymously. In doing so, he says kids are getting their feelings hurt.

"The app's promise of being anonymous has opened up a Pandora's box of trouble for our high school: malicious comments, hurtful statements, and untruths posted anonymously by our students and others in the community. These posts are vicious and hurtful, and there is no way to trace their source," the letter to the editor said. Read the full letter here.

Action News 5 was told some of the messages were so hurtful in Oxford that many students were in tears at school. 

"They all have iPhones, and they seem to all have the latest apps," said Harvey. "Technology has advanced to the point where we're always playing catch up. We'll never get ahead of it."

With new apps, spreading rumors and hurtful messages has never been easier. But Harvey is warning parents like Sherri Spragins about the new app.

"My teenagers were all at the house and they were talking about it," she said. "They might put something out there that could really hurt someone's feelings, or just say something that's untrue, spread rumors, and not really have to be accountable for what they say."

Harvey wrote a letter to the paper, and posted a parent warning to the district's website and Facebook pages.

"We need to use peer pressure for something good, and if we have one, or two, or 50 students who stand up to this, that's our best chance to get rid of it," he said.

Parents are getting the message, and passing it on to their kids the old fashioned way, through conversation.

Harvey said the school district is working with the developer to get what's known as a 'geo-fence' around the school that would block the app. Shelby County said the following regarding the app:

We have no reports involving this app. Also, cell phone use is not allowed during school. We don't have any knowledge of what students are doing in their free time.

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