Instagram Bullying Rattles OIS Students

Instagram, a social networking site known for sharing photos, turned into a hub for internet bullying and harassment in Orinda this summer. A page named “We hate the popular group (at OIS),” anonymously targeted seventh grade students currently attending Orinda Intermediate School (OIS). News quickly spread about the page, and some viewers reported the page to site administrators.

The account criticized girls for superficial flaws:  “Ur not pretty at all and you wear so much makeup! Also u always wear slutty bathing suits and bras and clothes…” the anonymous creator of ‘We hate the popular group (at OIS)’ wrote. The posts included rambling captions, and unappealing, zoomed in, candid photos of girls’ faces.

While many are still trying to figure out the culprit behind the account, the question remains, how is OIS handling this?

According to seventh grader Jackie Patton, “OIS hasn’t been dealing with it at all. I don’t know if the staff even heard about it; there hasn’t been a ton of discussion.” In contrast, OIS principal, Michael Randall said that there have been numerous attempts to spread awareness. To name a few, the administration has created the Anonymous Reporting Box, made appearances on KOIS, a news broadcasting station run by students at OIS, to discuss respect and bullying, and talked to parents about cyberbullying.

According to Miramonte ASB President Nick Coufal, he has been in contact with OIS Principal Randall to bring his anti-bullying campaign to OIS where he will screen the documentary “Bully.” While students may be unaware of the effects the campaign, Coufal hopes the anonymous Instagram account and his anti-bullying campaign will bring more awareness to the issue.

This summer, Coufal’s sister was another victim of cyber bullying on the social networking site, Ask FM. “The fact that this happened to my sister was shocking, especially with my anti-bullying campaign,” Coufal said. “My parents contacted the Orinda PD, and shortly after they conducted an investigation. This really opened my eyes and brought light to an issue that hit so close to home. That’s why this issue is so important to me.”

This issue hits home not only at Miramonte but also at OIS. According to Patton, “I think the person who created this page was very insecure. Although they were a bully through this account, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were bullied by other people.” Patton believes that the main issue at OIS isn’t physical bullying, but anonymous cyber bullying through social networking sites like Ask FM, Instagram, Twitter, and Formspring.

While these sites are often used for bullying, Coufal reached out to social media as a way to spread awareness of what had happened to his sister. Feedback was positive. “As a person I try to stop bullying in my everyday life,” Coufal said.  “I am proud to give my voice to the victims of cyber bullying and hope to see a change at OIS.”