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Students urged to fight cyberbullying by quitting anonymous sites

Patrick Herrera/iStockphoto

A rash of teen suicides in Nova Scotia has prompted a school to launch a campaign Wednesday asking students to shut down their Formspring accounts.

Riverside Education Centre in Milford Station is also asking students to publicly pledge to stay off social networking sites that allow anonymous comments.

Lee Anne Arsenault, the school's guidance counsellor, said the middle school has been dealing with the effects of Formspring since the fall.

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While she has also seen nasty comments on Facebook, Arsenault said the school can deal with them by tracking down those responsible for posting them.

Arsenault said the posts on Formspring are anonymous and students feel humiliated and intimidated.

Riverside will hand out pledge sheets to its 600 students and the names of those who take the pledge will be posted on a board at the school.

Brooklyn Greek and Marissa Doutre, Grade 8 students at Riverside, said recent suicides that have been linked to cyberbullying prompted them to deactivate their Formspring accounts.

"Before I thought it was just things that people were saying behind their computer screens, but now I realize that it's actually serious and it means things to people," Brooklyn said.

The two students said they are going to take the school's pledge. They have joined the school's campaign and were among a group of eight students who recorded an in-school TV commercial for the campaign launch.

"It's an opportunity for parents and kids to have these conversations as well," Arsenault said. "If a parent doesn't know what Formspring or these sites are, then it's an opportunity for their child to tell them about what's going on."

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