Cyberbullying consequences could include arrests

Even adults can remember their earliest brushes with a bully at school.

“It was always words, or physical actions,” recalled Matt Jahr. “It was no hiding behind a keyboard on a computer.”

Jahr is now the resources officer for the Onalaska School District, and he knows firsthand how bullying has evolved along with trending social media sites and new technologies.


Cyberbullying is becoming a type of harassment that schools are cracking down on – regardless of where it takes place.

“If something that occurs outside of these walls has an impact on the students’ learning, if we can get involved in a positive way and help, I think we should,” said Jed Kees, principal at Onalaska Middle School.

Onalaska’s schools take a preventative approach when it comes to bullying. Teachers incorporate anti-bullying lessons into their curriculum, and students take part in behavior programs throughout the school year.

But when that isn’t enough, police can step in.

Jahr said he’s handed out his fair share of citations related to a bullying incident.

“In a situation like last year, the young lady that was involved didn’t get the message, she ended up getting cited for harassment, and even after that I ended up having to write a referral to juvenile justice on charges of harassment,” he said.

Onalaska is just one of several area schools that take cyber bullying seriously, and they aren’t afraid to enforce strict consequences.

“There’s zero tolerance,” Officer Jahr said. “It’s not accepted anywhere, by anybody.”

Officer Jahr says in theory, parents could also be cited in connection with a bullying incident. That’s what the Florida sheriff is considering in Rebecca Sedick’s case.

According to Jahr, parents could possibly be charged with party to a crime of harassment. But fortunately, he’s never seen anything go that far here in our area.