SHOREWOOD, Wis. (CBS 58) — The Department of Justice says 19-year-old Matthew Cullen-Williams created 16 online accounts to “embarrass” and “control” the victim from Shorewood High School.
The bullying lasted for over four years. Reports say Cullen-Williams had possession of nude photos of the victim and the victim “received anonymous text messages from numerous fake numbers telling him what to do or his pictures would be distributed.” The messages ranged from instructing the victim to leave a high school football game to forcing the victim to have sex with Cullen-Williams.
“Although this situation did not occur on school grounds or use school property, we worked in cooperation with the Shorewood Police Department and the Department of Justice on this case. Our administrators and counselors have been and continue to be available to support any students and families involved,” said Bryan Davis, Shorewood School District Superintendent.
The criminal documents state the victim “believed the entire school was in on a plan to harass, embarrass and control him.”
The Shorewood High School Principal, Tim Kenney says their main focus to combat online bullying does not involved technology – they try getting to know the 700 students in grades 9-12.
“If something is going on, they’re going to talk to us… it happens all the time; our students talk to us, but not 100 percent. So we need to continue doing that work until we know that all of our students are going to feel comfortable doing that,” said Kenney.
Kenney says his office is always open. In addition to classroom teachers, there are three counselors and three “campus relations” staff members. They want all students to feel comfortable speaking up the moment they feel threatened.
The district does do what they can educate students and parents on technology safety.
“Our education regarding sexting and online bullying occurs at class meetings at the beginning of the year and in Health Education Classes throughout the year. We also work with the police department to bring in expert speakers to talk with our students about keeping kids safe online and on social media,” said Bryan Davis, Shorewood School District Superintendent.
In an attempt to reach students who want to remain anonymous, the school connected all students with an app called, “Stop It.” The app allows students to chat and report information anonymously. Kenney says it has been used this year to report cyberbullying.
“It’s not the playground bully anymore where it’s in front of your face. It’s in the palm of your hand… this is very different. Kids have the ability to be plugged in at all time so kids have access to them at way more hours of the day,” said Kenney.
When kids are out of school, Kenney recommends parents “trust but verify.”
“We love our children; we want to trust them. Have the conversation; don’t be afraid to take the cell phone and go through the cell phone and have a conversation about anything out of line. It doesn’t have to be a yelling match, but an important conversation you need to have,” said Kenney.