Cyber Bullying

MySpace Smears?

"I had bad acne when I was younger. Stuff that people would say about me is ‘pizza face' or ‘butter face,' and that would mean everything's hot but her face," explains 17-year-old Austyn. "If it was a perfect world, I probably wouldn't wear makeup, but I feel like my makeup is my security blanket."

Austyn says she is constantly harassed by one particular student. "The bully is in my history class. That's the class I'm struggling with the most, and I think the bully is the reason behind that. I've ditched that class before, because I just didn't even want to have to deal with her," she says.

Austyn shows Dr. Phil cameras the painstaking effort she puts into her appearance. "When I'm picking an outfit, I always make sure, Is it OK? Is it too revealing? Because people think I'm a slut. I get called 'whore,' '*face,' 'sags,' and that really hurts, because they're saying that I've had sex so much that my vagina's loose," she says. "Even in my yearbook, they circled my picture, and they put sag. People just don't like me, and I don't know why. They just don't even give me a chance."

Jay sat down with the tormented teen to document her experiences. 

"Tell me specifically what happened," he says.

"I had a friend, and we got into a fight one day. She and her friend went on my MySpace and changed everything," Austyn reveals.

"They just completely took over your MySpace page and even changed the password so you didn't have control over it any more," Jay summarizes.

"They put, ‘Call me if you want to *' and my cell phone number. ‘Hi, my name is Saggy.' I had people calling me all through the night saying they were touching themselves to my pictures," Austyn recalls. "I can still hear the voice. It was just like, ‘I'm touching myself. You're so pretty.' I turned off my phone at that point, and I just started crying."

"People read this, and they take it as the truth," Jay says.

"I just felt like everyone was against me," she shares.

"How did you get your parents to understand?"

"My sister made me tell them. I was embarrassed to show them, because I didn't want them to judge me at all, thinking any of this was true about me. We ended up going to the police station and changing my cell phone number," Austyn replies. She reflects on how cyber bullying has affected her and her fellow students. "This has absolutely taken control of high school."

Back in his studio, Dr. Phil turns to Austyn's mother, Dana. "Did you complain to the school?" he asks.

"I didn't go to the school about what's happening now. I didn't want to go the school to talk to the teacher, but the original incident, I went to the parents and to the sheriff's station," she replies.

"And they told you what?" Dr. Phil inquires.

"The parents said, ‘Not my child. Prove it.' The sheriff's station actually said it was my fault for not monitoring her use of the computer, which I absolutely agree with them," she responds. "She was too young, I should have been monitoring it. But at 17, I think it's unrealistic." 

In his new book, Jay includes warning signs to determine if your child is being bullied. "You have to look for when your kids make up excuses to not go to school. Every kid wants to skip class, but you have to make sure that there's no pattern," he explains. "Number two, they would often be angry, or sad, or depressed and withdrawn from their friends and family."

The third sign is children are often hurt by a particular person or group. "Even if they do come to tell you about, ‘Oh, this person's doing this,' a lot of time, it's not just typical teenage behavior," Jay continues. "Four, they're frequently picked on in the presence of other people. Number five, mistakes are turned into a big deal by somebody else. If their friends are around and they just jump on everything they do, then that is definitely a sign that they are being bullied."

The sixth sign is if a child's belongings are frequently missing. "Number seven, if they're always being confronted with lies and rumors about them at school, then that's definitely a sign that they may be bullied," he says.