APD officers Matt Frydrk (left) Marcus Humber (center)
The Amherst Police Department let it be known to a crowd of perhaps 30 last night at an Amherst Regional High School presentation that they take very seriously the issue of cyberbullying among our youth.
Problem is of course it's hard to prove when the line between First Amendment run-of-the-mill child bickering crosses over into criminal territory. Officers did admit that they have over the past five or six years investigated 6 or 7 cases, but they "didn't go anywhere."
But I'm fairly sure that the kid who had a uniformed officer questioning them about inappropriate behavior with a peer probably thought twice about repeating that inappropriate behavior.
The problem with bullying of the cyber kind is it no longer requires geographic proximity. The all powerful Internet is always on, and when a child wakes up in the morning that nasty remark is right there in their face.
Officers suggested (although my child seemed to be the only youngster in attendance) that you not engage with the bully because that is exactly what they want. Take a screen shot or print out the nasty remark, and when it happens three times, that shows a pattern. Report it to school authorities and/or the police.
In fact, after the terrible tragedy in South Hadley the State passed a law requiring schools to report incidents of bullying to the local police department; and APD will even take those complaints via an online reporting system that goes directly to Detective Dave Foster.
It also helps of course if parents/guardians demonstrate a little oversight on what websites their child visits and how much time they spend on the Internet.