Oppressed minorities and those fearing reprisal for speaking out have good reason to remain anonymous. It’s harder to understand why others feel compelled to make comments using false names, but the practice has become widespread in the internet era.

Sometimes it takes children to remind us of things that should be plain to us.

At the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, students who use the currently popular website Ask.fm report they are being harassed by hurtful, anonymous comments left by other users.

“And some people really do take that stuff to heart, and they shouldn’t because it’s completely and totally irrelevant, but they do,” one student told the Gazette last week.

When kids are involved, it’s known as cyber-bullying, but the effect on a community of mean-spirited and vitriolic comments made by faceless individuals can also be corrosive. Do I know that person? Do others feel that way? Are things really as bad as all that? We don’t know how to weigh comments because we don’t know their source, so we are left feeling less sure of what we know.

We wouldn’t tolerate someone bullying our child. Why shouldn’t we be as protective of our community’s fragile sense of well-being?