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Yearbook or ‘burn book’? Middle school yearbook allows students to bully, say parents

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 12:43 PM CDT
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HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - A middle school yearbook is typically the least controversial thing one might imagine. Filled with photos and memories of a child’s time in school, it is often a treasured keepsake for years to come.

But parents who bought a yearbook from Hancock Middle School for this school year say it is more of a “burn book” and that children are being encouraged to bully each other by the school instead.

Parents flooded Facebook on Monday expressing their concern and outrage over the yearbook, which included prompts and questions that were answered by the sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

Several concerned parents reached out to WLOX about the yearbook, comparing it to a “burn book” and questioning how it was ever approved.

While the book is filled with photos of the students, it is also filled with prompts and questions that encourage students to share their opinions.

One of the prompts asks, “Which friend would you not invite on Spring Break?” Students were quoted, often naming their classmates by first and last name.

“[Name] since she is full of herself,” stated one student.

“[Name] since he walks weird,” stated another.

“[Name] would not be welcome to come with me on a trip because she is not fun to be around,” said another.

Another prompt asked: “Have you ever avoided a friend?

“[Name]. He is pretty weird,” read one response.

“[Name] because she gets annoying sometimes,” said another.

“Yes, [Name] because he’s usually a brat in general,” said yet another.

Another page in the middle school yearbook said “I would like to spike a volleyball at...”

A Facebook post with photos of the yearbook quickly amassed hundreds of shares Monday just hours after being posted. Several comments on that post were from concerned parents and members of the community who said they were outraged that the school thought it was okay to ask these questions and that it ever was published to begin with.

WE MADE IT TO THE SUN HERALD ANd WLOX! LETS GET THESE BOOKS BURNED AND LEARN TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO BE HUMBLE!...

Posted by Tia Katrina on Monday, May 24, 2021

“I am completely appalled! How in the world did this ever get approved and go this far? Whoever thought this is acceptable should never be allowed back in a school! Middle school kids are brutal enough, they don’t need the adults condoning this type of behavior,” stated one person on the post.

“This is a pure disgrace. Creating hate and publicly humiliating kids! This is traumatizing to say the least and generating pure hate!” commented another.

WLOX has reached out to Hancock County School District for a comment and received the following statement:

“We are aware of the unfortunate fact that the Hanockc Middle School (HMS) 2020-2021 Yearbook contains sensitive and inappropriate comments from some of our students. The yearbook is student led, student published and has, in the past, been an award winning yearbook. The yearbook is, however, sponsor and administrator supervised; this yearbook should not have included the sensitive and inappropriate comments. Hancock Middle School has already taken measures to ensure that this never happens again.”

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