LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — Disturbing Instagram targeting students circulated Varsity Lakes Middle School in Lehigh Acres.
The account titled “Ugly Kids At Varsity” posted pictures of students at the school, titling “If you’re ugly you’re on here.”
Stephanie Garcia is a mother of four children; one daughter attends Varsity Lakes. She was shocked when she found out about the Instagram account. “It’s a really bad world out there right now,” Garcia said. “How did they come about that they wanted to do this? For what reason, what are they gaining?”
The account got into the hands of students, including her daughter’s. She saw the account while at school on Thursday. Garcia says this type of behavior is unacceptable. “You don’t need to do that. I mean, these are people’s kids, you shouldn’t be putting them out on social media if you don’t even know them,” she said.
Cyberbullying is growing among kids, especially with outlets like social media. Professor of Counseling at Florida Gulf Coast University Russell Sabella says kids cycle through a few types of cyberbullying trends.
“Unfortunately some kids underestimate the power of these tools, and in other instances, they just flat out use those tools maliciously, and in some cases, they use these tools without proper training,” he said.
Sabella recommends parents monitor kids’ devices using tools such as Guarding Kids to block and filter specific sites.
Proper training and understanding of social media are critical, especially for adolescents. Garcia believes constant communication has its consequences. “The internet is a good thing… but it’s also the worst thing that has happened to us. And it’s just not going to get any better,” she said.
Lee County School District responded about the malicious Instagram account with this statement: “We are aware of the social media site and disturbed by its content. We are investigating who the owner of the account is so that we can take any and all steps to close it down.”