"I asked if they'd heard about glass houses and rock throwing. I asked if any of
them were perfect people. I admitted to imperfection too. We all agreed that with others' good aim, we'd all be
standing in the shattered remains of our fragile houses. We'd be standing there--cut and bleeding from the broken glass--still
holding un-thrown rocks."
A seventh grade girl, Maribel, recently came to me,
a school counselor, in tears. She'd gotten off her school bus at our school's front door and been confronted by a group
of girls and one boy. She ran. She was crying, frightened, and hidden in a bathroom's stall. "GET OUT
OF THERE!",she reported a group of female students screaming at her.
Those students and many others, when I spoke with them, accused Maribel of spreading a rumor. Here's
how the report from the confronting students went. "Jack told us to text Fran that Maribel had said that Annette
had broken up with Jack because he'd kissed Laura. It was all over Facebook! She shouldn't have done that, Ms.
Werner. We just wanted to know why she did that."
"Because we all do stupid things sometimes," I said.
Maribel admitted to doing a stupid thing. Should have been over and done; that "coming clean"; should
have been enough.
But it's not in cyberspace.
With the click of the post button, that "we" of whom the students
spoke went from five to potentially hundreds of kids. That "we" can spread from middle schools to high schools and
enrage hundreds of other kids who then want to "defend." It's no wonder Maribel felt scared.
"We weren't going to fight her.......we just wanted to know why she did
I worked really hard at unraveling the complicated
story. I wanted this story to end. I needed these justice seeking kids' help. Outraged students defending honor
become cyber bullies on line. That is very dangerous for everybody.
Whee! Anything goes on Facebook and Instagram and Vine and Spillit and "Ask Me Anything." Click,
click, click. Kids alone on computers and iPhones and iPads. Parents knocking on bedroom doors and yelling out, "Everything
ok? Got your home work done? Do you want your dinner in there?"
Cyber abuse is a reality. We adults are clueless to the enormity of the abuse.
Maribel had identified four girls and one boy as the students who confronted
her upon her arrival at school. Defensive and outraged, they wanted their side of the story told. They really didn't
have a side to that story. They had nothing more than their outrage. They were holding on.
Here's where I went with that outrage. I asked if they'd heard about glass
houses and rock throwing. I asked if any of them were perfect people. I admitted to imperfection too. We
all agreed that with others' good aim, we'd all be standing in the shattered remains of our fragile houses. We'd be
standing there--cut and bleeding from the broken glass--still holding un-thrown rocks.
We talked about forgiveness.
We, I think, at
least for Maribel, kept the wild fire from spreading.