Mother's Lawsuit Against TPS, Twitter Brings Attention To Cyberbullying Problem

Thursday, January 3rd 2013, 5:51 pm
By: Craig Day

A Tulsa mother has filed a lawsuit against Tulsa Public Schools and Twitter.

The lawsuit claims embarrassing locker room pictures were taken of a high school girl and then posted online. It says the picture of the girl in her underwear was tweeted and TPS and Twitter didn't do enough to prevent it and keep it from being re-tweeted.

The case brings more attention to the growing problem of cyberbullying.

The lawsuit says a Booker T. Washington basketball player was restrained in a locker room in November, while other students took a picture of her in her underwear.

It says the picture was posted on Twitter and then re-tweeted, causing it to be seen by the majority of the schools' student body, which led to significant emotional trauma and embarrassment.

1/2/2013 Related Story: Mother Suing TPS, Twitter Over Pictures Of Daughter Posted Online

"I think that's an issue Twitter is going to have to face, along with other social networking sites—are going to have to face as things go on," said Cheryl Lawson.

Lawson, founder of Social Media Tulsa, a group that meets monthly, is following reports of the lawsuit filed against TPS and Twitter.

She says it could bring more awareness to the issue of cyberbullying.

"I'm not sure that suing Twitter is going to get or do anything other than recognition of this issue," Lawson said.

The lawsuit says school leaders failed to act, and that Twitter failed to reasonably monitor and remove the photograph, which led to bullying and taunting.

The suit asks for in excess of $75,000 in damages.

TPS isn't commenting.

Lawson says, on the whole, social media is used in a positive way, but should be used carefully.

"You've gone beyond joke, fun, prank to you're really offending somebody or embarrassing them to the point where they're scarred, so think about your actions," Lawson said.

Lawson said the case is a good reminder for parents to monitor what their children are seeing on social media sites.

"If it starts to get out of bounds or you are not comfortable with it, then you need to sit down and talk to your kids," Lawson said.

And Lawson said people should immediately report or flag abuse or anything objectionable, as soon as possible.

"At some point, we as a community have to say enough is enough," Lawson said.

The parents of the teens in the lawsuit are also being sued.

The lawsuit says they're liable, because they should have adequately supervised their children and should have known their children were careless, reckless and incompetent in using their cell phones.