Although Marietta Middle School sixth-grader Jade Deems admits to engaging in cyber bullying once, she said she'll have no problem keeping the promise she made Thursday to never do it again.
Deems said she once sent a "mean text message" to another girl.
"She's my friend now, though. I said sorry," she said.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Marietta Middle School sixth-grader Tabitha Slack, left, catches an egg during an egg-toss game that was part of an anti-cyber bullying event Wednesday, as fellow sixth-graders Aryanna Wood, center, and Megan Blair prepare to catch their own.
Deems was one of hundreds of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders to sign banners promising not to engage in bullying through Facebook, text messaging or even face to face. The pledges were made during lunch Thursday as the culmination to Marietta College graduate student Megan Archer's thesis project.
Archer, a Parkersburg resident completing her master's degree in corporate media, chose cyber bullying as the topic of her project due to national media attention on the subject in the wake of teen suicides, plus her own experience being bullied as a child.
"It's something that I feel strongly about, something that I feel does need to be addressed more," she said.
42 percent of children have been bullied while online. One in four have had it happen more than once.
35 percent of children have been threatened online. Nearly one in five have had it happen more than once.
21 percent of children have received mean or threatening e-mail or other messages.
58 percent of children admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than four out of 10 say it has happened more than once.
53 percent of children admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online. More than one in three have done it more than once.
58 percent have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.
Source: i-SAFE Inc.
Archer started in the fall by conducting a series of focus groups with Marietta Middle School students in an effort to learn what they knew about cyber bullying and what they needed to know.
"I've really learned a lot from these kids," she said. "I had no idea that cyber bullying in video games is a big deal now."
In February, Archer organized an anti-cyber bullying poster contest at the school, with students producing slogans like "Don't support it, report it" and "Cyber bullying is the worst kind of virus." She also made an insert to send home in the school's March newsletter and produced two public service announcements to air on all six of Clear Channel's local radio stations.
During lunch Thursday, students could sign the banners pledging not to engage in bullying behavior, win prizes in an egg-toss event and speak on air during a 95XIL live remote about their thoughts and experiences with bullying.
Sixth-grader Hunter McKinney said the event was fun and he had no problem signing the pledge.
"There's no point in cyber bullying. It's just mean, hateful, and whenever you cyber bully somebody, it comes back on you," he said.
Some people may think bullying is simply a rite of passage, but Archer said cyber bullying goes beyond getting picked on at school or on the bus because electronic communications are so prevalent now.
"You can't just go home and get away from it," she said.