Tough Questions: Cyber bullies use Facebook to torment victims - WNEM TV 5

Tough Questions: Cyber bullies use Facebook to torment victims

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One of the Bay City-area based Facebook pages. One of the Bay City-area based Facebook pages.

A disturbing new trend is emerging online that has people using social networks to cyber-bully others.

Social media companies are responding to requests to take down abusive pages, but new ones keep popping up to replace them.

Now TV5 is Asking the Tough Questions on what's being done to stop it.

One concerned parent, who doesn't want to be identified, spoke with TV5 about cyber bullying. "It's upsetting to me because it kind of hits close to home," said the parent.

Facebook pages with hateful messages aimed towards people in Bay County have been popping up. The parent TV5 spoke with has successfully had three of the sites shut down. She says the words can have dire consequences. "One of my [Facebook] group members committed suicide because of it. So it's real. It's nothing to joke about."

Julie Purdum is a cyber-victim. She was attacked on the Facebook page Bay City Call Out's. The 19-year-old can handle the written assaults, but she worries about those who can't.

"Enough is enough," said Purdum. I was told this morning that there was a young student that overdosed and she is in the hospital right now."

TV5 took our Tough Questions to the Bay County Sheriff's department to find out what they are doing to stop cyber bullying.

"If somebody threatens to hurt somebody or kill somebody, or makes ethnic intimidation, then we investigate it," said Bay County Sheriff John Miller. Miller says his department takes bullying on the Worldwide Web seriously. They even get federal officials involved when necessary. That said, he urges everyone not to take hurtful speech on the web seriously.

"You have to take into account it's words," said Miller. "And you can say a lot of things, but when you start backing those words up with actions, then you have a problem."

Whether its words or action, Purdum and our concerned parent want this to stop. Even though they can't get every mean spirited page shut down, they are launching one of their own. It's called Bay City's Realest. It offers support to those affected by cyber bullying.

"I hope that kids feel safe to come to us," said Purdum. "Be safe, come to your parents. Say something. Don't resolve to kill yourself, committing suicide. You're so much better than that."

"I would hate for my son to be bullied on Facebook and come home and be very upset without me knowing about it and having him commit suicide because he's afraid," said the concerned parent.

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