Manitoba

Twitter polls rating teens are nasty online bullying, Winnipeg students say

Students setting up Twitter accounts are comparing teens and classmates to others on everything from looks to sports ability, to sexual promiscuity and even skin colour.

Students being polled on who is better-looking, who's more black, who's smarter and who 'sucks more'

Twitter polls rating teens are nasty online bullying, Winnipeg students say

Manitoba

5 years agoVideo
1:52
Students setting up Twitter accounts are comparing teens and classmates to others on everything from looks to sports ability, to sexual promiscuity and even skin colour. 1:52
Some students in Winnipeg high schools are using polls on social media to rate one another, but some say it's online bullying that's reached a new level of nastiness.
Students at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg say a Twitter account that's comparing students to each other is a form of cyberbullying. (Marianne Klowak/CBC)

Twitter accounts have been set up to compare students from a number of Winnipeg high schools on different subjects — everything from who is better-looking to who's "greasier," who's "more black," who "sucks more" and who is "sluttier."

Some of the students being victimized are from Kelvin High School, Vincent Massey, St. Mary's Academy, Grant Park and Shaftesbury.

Two names of students are put next to the question, and then people respond to the poll anonymously.

Students call it cyberbullying

Emily Griffith, a Grade 11 student at St. Mary's Academy, said one girl's name from her school is in the polls. Griffith has no idea who started it.

Sophia Vodniza, a 15-year-old student at Kelvin High School, says the people behind the social media polls are 'mean and hateful.' (Marianne Klowak/CBC)
"I think it's a form of bullying, honestly, in a way because I think it's pretty rude to those people who lose in the polls and their name is being put out there against their will. I know someone younger than me who is the victim of this," said Griffith.

"It is really horrible. She doesn't want to be involved in that."

Michael Raaflaub, a Grade 12 student at Kelvin, said his best friend was bullied on the Twitter account.

"It can start disputes, people fighting, there has been racial slurs. It brings a lot of heat to people," said Raaflaub. "I am totally against it personally, to be honest. I have never seen my name on Twitter polls, so that is a good thing."

He said the accounts are random, and anyone can make one and hide behind it.

'Anonymously getting their hate out'

Hugh Clarke, 18, says students are being put in a bad light by the polls, which can 'ruin a person's reputation or job opportunities.' (Marianne Klowak/CBC)
Sophia Vodniza, a 15-year-old who also attends Kelvin, said she believes it all started out innocently with people asking questions such as, "Should I dye my hair?"

Now she said people are using it in a bad way. 

"They are asking, 'Who is sluttier, this person or that person?' People are anonymously getting their hate out," Vodniza said.

"I think it's a form of bullying. And you can't stop it; it's the internet."

Hugh Clarke, 18, said students are being publicly shamed and embarrassed.

"It puts them in a bad light and it can ruin a person's reputation or job opportunities," he said.

Winnipeg School Division responds

Kelvin High School is part of the Winnipeg School Division, which has issued a statement on the matter:

"When a cyberbullying site such as the one in question is brought to the division's attention, we report it to Winnipeg Police Services, which we have done in this case. This has happened on two other occasions in the past 12 months," the division said.

"Schools reinforce the division's code of conduct and remind students about protecting themselves on social media and reminding them who they can talk to if they feel they are being cyberbullied. Our school administration has talked to students about it and we haven't had any cases of discipline at this time. We have reported to police that there is an active cyberbullying site."

The students CBC News spoke with say while it has to stop, they don't know how.

"The people who are doing this are mean and hateful," said Vodniza. "They should stop doing this, it's really hurtful. But you can't put a stop to it because it is on the internet."

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection said technology is being misused in this case and the service provider should be alerted.

"The more people actually complain and the more people who make these concerns known, the more likely it is that the service providers are going to be responsive," said Noni Classen, director of education, Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

"It's a problem because it's hurtful, it's hateful and the technology is being misused. It's the inundation, the intention to hurt, the harmful nature of it and the imbalance of power."

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