Is Your Child a Cyber Bully? Or a Cyber Victim?

The suicide of a Primghar teen who'd been bullied after he said he was gay has elevated public discussion of the problem of cyber-bullying.

The suicide of a 14-year-old Primghar boy who endured weeks of bullying in school and on the Internet after he came as a gay teen has elevated public discussion of cyber-bullying.

Des Moines Register columnist Kyle Munson has been following the story since Kenneth James Weishuhn hanged himself in his family's garage last weekend.

Weishuhn, who before he came out had been a popular teen at South O'Brien Community School in Paullina, was taunted in the hallways, was vilified on Facebook and received threatening messages on his cell phone, said his family.

His school's administrators confirmed one incident, but said they weren't aware the bullying continued and Weishuhn never filed complaints. School Superintendent Dan Moore told Munson, "The biggest battle we fight is with cyber-bullying." 

What can/should schools do to combat cyber-bullying?

Weishuhn's death comes at a time when the documentary "Bully" is showing in Iowa theaters. The film tells several stories of bullying victims, including a 12-year-old boy who lived in Sioux City at the time the movie was filmed. 

The film opens Friday at the Fleur Cinema in Des Moines.

You can read a compilations of videos and reactions to the teen's death here.

The Johnston School district has an anti-bullying policy easily accessible on its website.

The policy lays out the district's mission to provide a safe and civil school and work environment for students, employees, officers, board of directors and volunteers.

Bullying and harassment will not be tolerated in the school or school district, according to the policy.

An individual who believes that he/she has been harassed or bullied should notify a building or district administrator.

The Urbandale school district has an anti-bullying policy on its website, but the policy focuses on actions on school property or at school events, as well as creating non-hostile environments for students.

"Acts of harassment or bullying may be treated as grounds for discipline. Discipline may include suspension or expulsion of a student, termination of an employee's contract, and/or exclusion of a volunteer from District activities or premises," the policy states.

The Waukee School District has an online tool to report bullying and students earlier in the year created a moving video against bullying.


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