News Wednesday, August 05, 2020 - COVID-19 Re-Opening Plan Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - Vincent Smith School 8th Grader Challenges Apple to Help Stop Bullying Special education student hopes to lessen middle-school "drama" from iPhones https://www.prlog.org/12790612-vincent-smith-school-8th-grader-challenges-apple-to-help-stop-bullying.html PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. - Sept. 24, 2019 - PRLog -- Long Island middle-school student Ian T. wants to stop the incessant bullying in group chats on iPhones, so he's gone straight to the source, with a hand-written letter to Apple. "These group chats are a problem…People are cursing, bullying and making others upset." Ian attends Vincent Smith School (https://www.vincentsmithschool.org/), a special education school just outside New York City which caters to students in grades 1-12 with learning disabilities, school anxiety, or attention issues. Many of the children are enrolled by their parents specifically because of chronic bullying they've already experienced in their local district schools due to their learning differences. To have to experience bullying again, but now in the small, unsupervised space of a group chat, can intensify their still-fresh wounds. So Ian wrote to Apple (https://www.apple.com/) to ask them what to do about it. Classes at Vincent Smith (https://www.vincentsmithschool.org/About-VSS) are very small, averaging about 5 students per class, in keeping with the school's mission to provide the maximum amount of individual attention to every student. Because of their small population, most of the children know each other and some bridge over to adjacent grades, since students are grouped by their abilities and strengths rather than according to a strict age cutoff. As a result, group chats often comprise a large swath of children who not only see each other every day but interact directly, multiple times throughout the day for long periods of time. This closeness, combined with the typical angst of middle-school adolescence and the social-emotional issues of special education students, is the perfect breeding ground for the kind of bullying that a group chat exacerbates. "More drama is happening at school because of the chats…They try to block them but they keep texting from different numbers." Middle school, especially, is known for its social turmoil, and Ian believes that the chats are only adding to the difficulties. In his urgent plea to Apple, he says he is willing to hear any solutions they can offer, but notes, "We can't find a way to stop this problem. If you don't have any ways or suggestions, I think that group chats should be banned forever." Ian ends his appeal with a respectful, "If you would like to help with this problem, please write back to me. I hope to hear back from you soon."