Do the preparation exercise first and then read the article. If you find it too difficult, try one of the lower levels. After reading, do the exercises to check your understanding.
Kay got another message as she was leaving for school.
unknown number: You’re so ugly.
She put her phone back in her pocket and set off for the bus stop. There were more messages every day now and it was really getting her down. She didn’t know who it was or why they were picking on her. It might be more than one person. They kept changing names. The phone beeped again.
She’d always got on well with everyone and she couldn’t think why anyone would do this to her. Now her friends were avoiding her. Becky was the only one who’d stayed by her. They’d been friends since they were six. The phone beeped again. I’m not going to look, she thought. But what if it was Mum? She looked. It was a comment on her Facebook profile picture.
princesspusheen: Stop taking photos of yourself. No one wants to look at you. Loser!
Her heart was pounding now. She turned her phone off. She’d tried to delete the posts and block the user but they kept coming back with a different name. Becky thought it must be a hacker. Kay had sent messages to the sites telling them what was happening but they’d done nothing yet.
Becky was waiting for her at the bus stop. 'Hi, Kay, are you all right? You look terrible!' 'No, I’ve been getting those stupid messages all morning. I’ve got to do something, Becky. I’m starting to go mad. Do you think I should go to the police?' 'Well, you could try,' said Becky. 'But I heard they won’t do anything. And besides, he’s probably using anon.com. Hackers use that site to hide their identity so the police will never be able to find them. Anyway, I wanted to tell you, I think I might know who it is ...' Just then the bus came and they got on.
There were lots of kids from school on the bus. Kay felt they were all looking at her. Julie McGann was whispering something to her friend. They both started laughing. Kay and Becky sat down. 'Who is it?' asked Kay. 'Shh! He’s sitting at the back. Don’t look!' Kay looked around. Ollie Jones was sitting on the back seat. He was looking at his phone. 'But why?' asked Kay. 'Well, you did just finish with him, didn’t you?' said Becky. 'What? We weren’t even going out,' said Kay. 'And I don’t even like him.' 'Yeah, well I heard he really liked you.'
That day at school was terrible. When she didn’t have classes with Becky no one would sit next to her and everyone kept looking at her then looking away. She should have left her phone switched off but she didn’t. She couldn’t stop herself from looking at the messages.
anookins2014: What happened to your face? This is the ugliest pic I’ve ever seen.
pixiestar: You make me sick.
bellatricks17: Everyone hates you!
By lunchtime Kay couldn’t take any more. She hid in the art room. She couldn’t stop crying. Mrs Gibson her music teacher found her there at the end of lunch break and Kay told her everything. She offered to go to the police with Kay. She said they were getting better at finding cyberbullies now and the laws were changing too. The bell rang. It was time for class.
Kay had IT next. Her class was already in the computer room, but the teacher wasn’t there yet. She wanted to talk to Becky but she was in the top group for computers. Everyone went quiet when she came in. There was only one computer left. She sat down at it and moved the mouse. The screen came to life. She just sat there staring at the images on the screen. It was a website and it was called hatekay.com. There were photos of Kay and her family, but they’d all been changed to make them look ugly or disgusting. There was one of Kay that looked like a zombie. There was even one of her pet dog. It looked like it was dead. Her address, phone number and emails were there for everyone to see and there was a message at the top of the page:
'Like this page if you hate Kay Granger.'
There were more than 100 likes. Her phone beeped.
unknown number: I’m watching you.
Kay didn’t look around. She just ran from the room and didn’t stop running until she got home. She didn’t go back to school that week. She kept her phone switched off and she couldn’t even look at her computer. Becky called a few times but Kay didn’t want to see anyone. On Monday Mum told her that Mrs Gibson had contacted the police and they thought they’d found the bully. Kay decided to go and tell Becky.
Becky was in her bedroom doing homework on her computer. She looked surprised to see Kay. They talked for a while, but Kay got the feeling Becky didn’t want her there. Then there was a knock at the door. It was Becky’s mum. She looked very worried. 'Becky, can you come downstairs now?' Kay started to get up too. 'Could you wait here, please, Kay?' Becky’s mum smiled nervously at Kay. What was going on?
Kay waited, but ten minutes later Becky hadn’t come back. Then her computer started beeping. She was getting messages. Kay couldn’t help herself. She tapped a key and the screen came to life. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. There were lots of photos of Ollie Jones. Some of them had kisses all around them. There was one of Becky and Ollie. It looked like a selfie. There was a message blinking at the bottom of the screen. Kay clicked on it and a webpage opened up. It was anon.com. It was Becky’s home page. Just then the door opened. It was Becky’s mum. She’d been crying. There was someone standing behind her. 'Kay, this policewoman would like to talk to you.'
Worksheets and downloads
Did Kay do the right thing? What can people do to stop bullying?