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.
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.
“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.DONATE
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