CABOT, Ark. (KTHV) -- Police in Cabot are investigating whether or not posts on a website are cyberbullying.
The website Topix is a public forum where people can post about news and events of the day, and they can create forum topics for themselves.
Recently, parents of Cabot students have become concerned after some forum topics have been addressing specific students. They say some of the postings have become mean and the students being named are being bullied.
USA Today reports in Arkansas, a 2007 law added cyberbullying to school anti-bullying policies and included provisions for school officials to take action against some off-campus activities. The law applies to electronic acts whether or not they originate on school property "if the electronic act is directed specifically at students or school personnel and is maliciously intended for the purpose of disrupting school, and has a high likelihood of succeeding in that purpose."
Bullying has always been around, but now it's more prominent and more permanent. John DiPippa, dean of the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law says, "The problem with cyber bullying is that bullying has been going on forever, it's just that in a digital age when you can post comments and they stay permanently and they get dispersed to a lot of people, the impact can be much greater."
DiPippa says the hard thing about this is balancing people's first amendment rights to say what they want, and how those statements can be hurtful to people.
One thing to be aware of are threats. DiPippa says, "No one can make a threat. And so true threats capable of being acted upon that interfere with a person's education or their freedom of movement, are serious issues. And occasionally actions have been taken upon the posters for quote, unquote 'true threats.'"
Parents must keep themselves aware of what's being posted on the internet, and if they think there are true threats, they must go to the school and talk to officials.
DiPippa says bullying has always been around, but cyberbullying almost protects the bully because they can remain anonymous and they can be as harsh as they please.
THV's Lisa Hutson spent the day in Cabot and spoke with a few Cabot Public School students.
Cabot girls at Page and Company Dance studio spend their afternoons on their toes, tapping out their stress from the day and Monday, they had a lot to get out.
"That was the biggest sigh of relief that I've ever had in my high school career, just getting on Topix and my name isn't there," says Anna Hudson.
It is the talk of the whole town.
"Just because you don't like somebody, you can't just go and trash them," says Kayla Grimes.
"There are people on there that don't even know them and they are trashing them and it's like why would you do that?" says Ashley Bingham.
A public forum called Topix where students are posting nasty comments about their classmates.
Ashley Bingham, Anna Hudson, and Kayla Grimes are seniors at Cabot High.
"I've just been told by my best friends that I'm on it," says Kailey Seibs, a student at Cabot Junior High North.
They say many of their friends are targets for the anonymous posts.
"Most of them are saying, 'Eh, it's whatever. It's just something untrue.' But imagine those that it really does hurt them and nobody even knows," says Hudson.
"There was one, 'Who are the gayest people in high school?' That probably really hurt a lot of them," says Grimes.
"Something has to be done about that whole Topix, " says their dance coach, Jasen Page who took a look at the forum that mentioned some of his students, including his daughter. "You would be amazed by how horrible and how nasty some of the talk was directed at some of these twelve, thirteen, fourteen year old girls. The things that they are saying about these girls are doing a lot of damage and people don't realize the ramifications that come from the things that they are saying about these young girls," says Page.
While some are looking for legal action, these teens think a more simple solution could be the answer.
"A giant school assembly where people lined up and they apologized. I mean that would probably be the ultimate punishment," says Hudson.
Topix posted a warning on the Cabot forum that cyber bullying is a crime in Arkansas and quote "Don't be stupid" when posting.