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Cyberbullying gets complicated as schools, police combat fake social media profiles

Cyberbullying gets complicated as schools, police combat fake social media profiles

Cyberbullying is getting more complicated for schools and law enforcement these days, as authorities are dealing with students creating fake online profiles to harass and threaten fellow classmates.  And in one recent case in Tennessee, the student doing the cyberbullying also sent messages to herself and filed a false report about it.

From WBIR:

A McMinn County High School student has been charged with harassment and filing a false report after setting up a fake Facebook account and making threats.

McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy had been investigating claims by students and parents of harassing posts from a bogus account. The investigation revealed the posts were partly a hoax.

“Basically, one of the juvenile students who had been the first to report the incident was the person who had set up the fake Facebook account, and who was making the threats,” Sheriff Guy said.

Sheriff Guy says the cyberbullying crossed the line when the posts not only were continuous, but became more threatening. Some of the messages made reference to knowing specific things like which bus someone rode, and indicated that something was going to happen to that student.

When the name on the Facebook profile didn’t match up to any students in the school’s directory, law enforcement became suspicious.  Police now believe the girl who filed the first report about the cyberbullying was sending messages to herself while harassing other students.

The teen has been charged with harassment and filing a false report.

In Massachussetts, police and school department officials in Natick became concerned enough about a similar problem that they sent an email alert to parents, warning that students are creating fake social media accounts for the purpose of bullying classmates, according to Boston.com.

In the letter, administrators urged parents to monitor or delete their children’s social media sites, and provided parents direct links to report any bullying via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine.

“History has taught us that this type of behavior can result in tragedies and, therefore, it should not be taken lightly,” administrators said in the letter.

Any students caught bullying via social media will be punished accordingly by school officials, and in some cases could even be prosecuted by police, administrators said in the email.

The alert came after multiple reports of cyberbullying to police, which include victims as young as middle school.

Authorities explained that they’re trying to be proactive and get ahead of the issue, and to get the parents engaged in monitoring what their kids are posting and experiencing online.

And in Mississippi, a more serious case has resulted in charges against a 13 year old girl after nude photos were coerced from another 13 year old girl and used to harass her.  Police were not brought in until late in the matter, and expressed frustration that a lot of people knew about the situation for some time, including the parent of the suspect.

WLOX.com – The News for South Mississippi

From WLOX-13:

“Sexting is a lot bigger problem than people think. It’s becoming, unfortunately, almost acceptable in the teenage culture. And once those pictures are out there, they are out there. A lot of boys and girls are trading these pictures like baseball cards,” said Waveland Police Chief David Allen.

It’s a dangerous and damaging practice that Waveland Police Chief David Allen said needs to stop. He showed WLOX News page after page of illicit messages investigators uncovered while looking into a cyberbullying case involving a 13-year-old victim.

[…] “Going back to the origin of the pictures, we eventually figured out she was actually extorted of these pictures, a phenomenon known as sextortion. With sextortion the person turns around and says, ‘Now that I have these pictures of you, you will send me more or I will send these out to everyone you know,'” explained the chief.

[…] “Going through the evidence, we found out that the mother of the 13-year-old suspect had knowledge of what was happening to a certain extent and there was a huge failure for her to be a responsible adult in this case,” according to Allen.

As we’ve covered here at Legal Insurrection before, the reaction to such issues is usually to create more laws, which always come with unintended consequences.  But it seems that if more parents became engaged in what their children are doing online, and positive examples were more frequently encouraged and rewarded, it might be the best path to improving matters.

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Comments

I knew a girl in college that send harrassing letters to herself.

With all the tax money spent on anti-bullying, and the emphasis in schools to stop bullying, you’d think it would be getting better, not worse.

    You’d think, huh? But I think when the people passing the laws are they themselves bullies, kinda loses something in the translation! I’m really tired of being called gay slurs by my elected officials who then turn around and scold us for being uncivil.

OMG, itsa’ High school named in honor of Lizzy Cherokee!

Send the unnamed girlie psycho to A, little girlie psycho house, preferably in a straight jacket for a few years. If no improvement is forthcoming, keep her there.

To whomever fills out a false report of cyber bullying, they should be given 1,000 hours of community service, and prohibited from using a computer for 60 days.

That’s my solution anyways.

Bullying is a parenting problem and will only be solved by parents. Sending for government at all levels will just make a great big festering mess of it and ruin untold number of lives. Bullying is a moral issue not a legal issue and it would behoove the country to figure this out fast. Classroom teachers/instructors are also in an excellent position to deal with bullying if empowered by administration and not hindered by well meaning misguided legislation.

Look how well zero tolerance works in schools.

TrooperJohnSmith | September 29, 2013 at 12:04 am

Emerging technology is always fraught with unintended consequences and offers new challenges to both law enforcement and to society in general. As technology becomes more complex, those unintended consequences become more complex. Unfortunately, the solutions follow the same complexity curve, and result in more government, more restriction of liberty.

The solution is more personal responsibility. Where there is more personal responsibility, fewer rules and needed. Sadly, the corollary is true and, human nature being what it is, it is that corollary which we most often see.

What is this nonsense about “cyberbullying” via Facebook and Twitter? When I had an account at either, it was my understanding that you could set up your account in such a way that the people who contacted you were people of whom you approved and that you could bounce people as you saw fit. A sort of “change the channel” function.

So, is this generation of tech-savvy young people stupid in some very basic ways? How is it that they let cretins contact them and then wail about cyberbullying when they have the means to put an end to it? Ah, I remember! They are products of the PS system.

If you cyberbully a police officer pretending to be a teenager is it still a crime if you believe it is a police officer pretending to be a teenager?

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