Newfoundland school district investigating complaints of 'ugly girls' polls
In this May 16, 2012 file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. (AP / Matt Rourke)
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, January 11, 2016 3:50PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 11, 2016 4:41PM EST
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District is now checking out complaints of six anonymous polls online that ranked girls based on their looks.
They involve five polls reported across the island, including one that made national headlines in Torbay, and a potential incident in Labrador.
"These are very disturbing acts and they're complex to deal with," said Jeff Thompson, the district's associate director of education.
It can be tough to trace online harassment that crosses borders and can happen around the clock, he said in an interview.
Thompson stressed that there are consequences for such behaviour. He said the district is working with students, staff, parents and the police but could not immediately confirm any specific discipline taken so far.
An RCMP spokeswoman was not available Monday to update ongoing investigations.
Thompson said the most recent incident was reported last week in Bay Roberts near the capital of St. John's. There have been other complaints in the Conception Bay area and Gander. No details or precise location were immediately available for the complaint in Labrador.
Thompson said the district set up an Internet and social media safety committee two years ago. It helped craft lessons for Grades 1 through 12 on how to be safe online. Students are also taught that the same respect for others should be shown in the cyber world as in the physical one, he added.
"One is way too many," he said of the so-called ugly girl surveys.
High school student Lynelle Cantwell of Torbay wrote a Facebook retort that went viral after she was named in a poll last month.
"I'm sorry that your life is so miserable that you have to try to bring others down," it said. "To the 12 people that voted for me to bring me to 4th place, I'm sorry for you too. I'm sorry that you don't get to know me as a person."
RCMP in Port aux Basques have also confirmed they're looking into a post involving the "ugliest girls" in Grade 9 at a local school.