Last week, a Florida freshman sat in her first period class and fired off some angry tweets about her teacher. An hour later she was escorted from class by a Florida police officer to an administrator’s office. A few hours after that, she was on her way to jail.
The tweets said: Freshman Tweets Threats To Her Teacher During Class, Charged With A Felony
“Someone bail me out of prison when I murder Ms…I’m about to stab her I’m literally so pissed right now someone help”
“I HOPE MS…KILLS HERSELF.”
“MS. …IS SUCH A (expletive) BITCH I’M LITERALLY ABOUT TO STAB HER IN THE FACE”
“I am on the verge of tears I want to rip her face off”
“I hope that ms ..goes on the roof of the school and jumps off into a pit of fire.”
“@ms…maybe if us actually clarified and explained we woultn’t have all gotten d’s on the assignment??!!”
The three messages where she expressed direct threats led to a felony charge of “written threats to kill.” She was also charged with cyberstalking, which is a misdemeanor.
The school district has new social media monitoring software in place called Snaptrends, but it was an anonymous call about the tweets that alerted authorities and led to the student’s arrest. From The Orlando Sentinel: “The police report noted the girl’s Tweets were public and could have been seen by her teacher. The female teacher was ‘visibly distraught’ about the messages and said she would ‘assist in prosecution,’ the police report said.”
The gravity of social media is a real issue that needs to be discussed with teens. It could be argued that this was just a harmless teenager blowing off steam. It could also be argued that we never know how seriously to take a threat until after something horrible has happened. Whatever we argue, this is a teen who could potentially have a felony on her record if they proceed with the charges.
The Orange County School District began using software to monitor the social media accounts of its students in May. The district says it decided to use the software “to proactively prevent, intervene and (watch) situations that may impact students and staff.” One CNET blogger asked, “don’t kids deserve a little social media privacy, in which they can be, well kids, away from adults’ eyes?” No. Not when their accounts, like Twitter, are public.
There is no such thing as privacy on a public social media account. The faster our children learn this lesson the better. Being a mouthy teenager may not warrant a felony charge, but how do you determine what is a credible threat and what isn’t?
Ugh, technology. You’re making parenting teens more of a nightmare than it was to begin with.