Bryan Cohen Oct. 4, 2013, 4:30pm

BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) -- Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and Facebook announced a new initiative Thursday that will provide educators with a direct connection to addressing sensitive issues of online bullying in schools.

Facebook outlined the pilot project at the Maryland Association of Boards of Education fall conference before school system superintendents and legal counsel.

Gansler's office and Facebook launched the Educator Escalation Channel to coincide with the start of National Bullying Prevention Month.

"Too often, we read headlines about cyberbullying that inflicts serious emotional trauma on children, or worse yet, ends in tragedy," Gansler said. "We can no longer brush off these episodes and we must reject a 'kids will be kids' mentality that ignores how to confront this troubling trend."

The pilot project is meant to streamline reporting of potential cyberbullying occurrences on Facebook that may not be resolved through the normal reporting process on Facebook or that may require more immediate attention.

Each school system will have a single point person responsible for communicating directly with Facebook. When an issue of questionable or prohibited content is not resolved within 24 hours, educators can contact their school system's designated point person to accelerate the report through the Educator Escalation Channel.

About one-third of all schoolchildren, or nearly 13 million students, are bullied each year. According to a Consumer Reports survey, one million children experienced cyberbullying on Facebook in 2011.

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