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Dedicated Process for Federally Recognized K-12 Education Institutions to Report Posts/Accounts That Harass, Intimidate, Bully or Otherwise Negatively Target Students

Why It Matters


While no federal law directly addresses bullying of students or educators, public school districts have an obligation—often outlined in policies and value statements as well as state laws—to provide safe educational environments free from harassment and bullying. For many school districts, that obligation extends to online spaces where educational organizations and students coexist because online harassment and bullying can be a contributing factor to violence and disruption in the school setting. 

About 16 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported being electronically bullied in 2019, according to federal statistics. When it comes to reporting mock social media accounts/pages and posts that harass, intimidate, bully or otherwise negatively target students, school districts must follow the same reporting method on social media platforms as all individual users. This typically involves clicking something on the harmful post or account profile to make a report; blocking a post or an account has limited benefits for school districts as it does nothing to prevent others from seeing the harmful content.

Many school districts experience frustratingly long response times when reporting incidents, during which the harmful posts and accounts remain active. Others receive outright rejections of their complaints despite the harmful posts and accounts clearly violating a platform’s standards or rules. The CoSN-NSPRA member survey found that within the last two years, social media platforms did not remove reported mock accounts for the educational organizations of 37% of respondents. Additionally, 45% of respondents shared that they reported accounts/posts that harassed, intimated or bullied students and the accounts/posts were not removed by the platform.

Following is a small sampling of the more than 200 comments received from members whose school districts have experienced challenges with harmful posts and accounts.


In Their Words

“Accounts that are bullying our students including posting photos of students in bathroom stalls and locker rooms. We have reported accounts and individual photos and are always denied. These bullying accounts have a huge negative impact on the mental health of our students to the point of creating suicidal ideation and causing fights on campus. There MUST be a way for K-12 schools to receive live assistance from social media platforms for situations such as these.”

“We have several student-created Instagram accounts that use our school logo as the profile picture. We have reported them to Instagram and they have been completely unwilling to do anything about it. WMS fights, WMS goes potty, WMS gets no sleep, WMS Posture Checks, WMS bad shoes, WMS toepics, WMS eating, Woodland middle school confessions. These accounts harass, bully, encourage fighting, take and post photos of people without permission. They damage school culture and cause major conflicts among our students.”

“We constantly see accounts pop up designed to bully and target kids, such as ‘hot or not’ accounts to rate student appearance, or ‘ship or dip’ accounts to matchmake two students together. We report the accounts, and sometimes they are taken down, and sometimes they are not. Even if they are really bad, there is nobody we can call or contact to speed up the process so I usually call everyone I know and ask them to report the account. It seldom works.”

“We have had various ‘fight’ Instagram accounts from middle school students (some of whom are underage for Instagram) and the videos/posts/content are literally made up of minors beating each other up, and Instagram says that the account does NOT violate their community standards, and the posts do NOT violate their community standards. Also, it's impossible to report the account owner as underage without their exact name and birthday."

“Without a designated process to use, I will often spend an hour trying to report these accounts through ‘the proper channels.’ The bullying legislation in our state and local Board policy gives discretion to school systems to address these accounts. However, social media companies do not provide us with any tools to be able to do so. It is a maddening cycle that we have not been able to escape.”

“One major issue is with accounts pretending they are a sports entity that is webcasting an athletic event. They give links and ask for credit card information. We've had people contact our district office claiming their card has been stolen as a result.”

“We have had several ‘dirt’ accounts on Facebook and twitter related to the board or specific schools where subscribers are encouraged to post unflattering photos of students/staff or make nasty comments/tell stories about them. They have all been reported for harassment at least a month ago, but still haven't been shut down.”

"One of the ‘tea’ accounts at the high school was chaos last semester—fights, threats, even a student who went on suicide watch—and after hours and hours over multiple days and weeks, there was NOTHING we could do. Literally, we went to the police (local and state), FBI, Instagram, Meta, our attorneys, we messaged parents and kids. No one was able to help. I fear it's going to take something catastrophic happening for any attention to be paid.”