Over the weekend we learned that a facebook site called “Evanston Rats” is causing embarrassment, humiliation, and harm to many people. Sadly, many of our students have already signed on as “fans” to contribute to the site or to read the malicious things being said. This morning, I addressed students urging them to immediately stop any participation in the site or any similar sites. I explained their actions are hurting other people. In addition, I said their actions on the internet can be a violation of school rules and can be against the law.

Bullying at Evanston Township High School, including cyberbullying, is a serious violation of school rules and can result in serious consequences; Students can be suspended for up to 10 days and/or expelled, and removed from extracurricular activities, including prom and graduation.

Moreover, cyberbullying can be against the law. Within the past two weeks, nine teenagers in a Massachusetts high school were indicted on criminal charges for cyberbullying, for how they used the internet to harm another classmate. That senseless, inhumane internet bullying, which resulted in nine indictments, has ruined the lives of many people.

“Evanston Rats” is now a police matter. The police can subpoena the name and IP address of the account from which the Facebook page was created. The identity of every person that visits the site can be documented by the authorities. People could be prosecuted.

Parents are asked to tell their children not to visit the site, even out of curiosity, or to visit a similar cyberbullying site. We ask them to talk to their children about what they value. No one should ever want to cause embarrassment, humiliation or harm to another human being. If students have posted something malicious on the site, I admonish them to dig deep inside and decide if that is the kind of person they want to be. Remember: Your character defines you; your life will be what you make of it.

If you feel your child is a victim of this cyberbullying, counselors and social workers are available at ETHS to assist him or her. If you or your child has any illegal activity to report, contact Terrance Doby, Safety Director, or one of the ETHS grade-level deans to take down information.