Collier schools target cyber bullying

Posted at 11:03 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 07:44:32-04

NAPLES, Fla. - The statistics are startling: more than three-fourths of Collier County students say they've been a victim of or have seen someone get bullied on social media.

Social media apps like Kik, Instagram and Twitter are giving bullies 24 hour access to victims.

"I had a few different bullies, and a experienced a few different types of bullying, it was generally more verbal than emotional," said Fabianna Pergolizzi.

That experience inspired Pergolizzi to start "Project Anti-Bully." It's a non-profit that originated in Collier County, where Fabianna attended high school at the Community School.

Project Anti-Bully is now in 27 different countries.

Last fall the Collier County Sheriff's Office told the district it saw an increase in cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking.  "Oh it's real.  If anyone who has a teenager that has a device in their hand, go home and ask them," said spokesman Greg Turchetta.

The district launched a series of public services announcements featuring students who are victims of cyber bullying. The campaign is geared toward establishing trust between students, teachers, and parents.

Some students in Collier schools are volunteers for Project Anti-Bully, and serve as mentors for their peers so they don't feel alone.

"I realized while talking to other people that bullying is not just an isolated incident, it doesn't just happen to me," Pergolizzi.

Parents can also do their part by having a conversation with their child about their social media habits.  "There's two things they shouldn't be having access to, anonymity and location based services," said Turchetta.

The district set up a number students can use to anonymously report bullying. The can text DNTH8 to 274637.