Tweeted threat demonstrates problem with social media

Molly Hurley, Veritas Staff

Many enjoy social networking on Facebook or Twitter to communicate with their peers or loved ones, or to simply stay in touch with worldwide events. The downfall to social networking is with teens who use it to comment on conflicting issues.  Teens see social networking as a shield through which they can say whatever they want.  This is sometimes self satisfying; however, it also causes a major issue when tweets or posts are seen as bullying or as threats to cause harm.

On January 8th, the RHS boys varsity basketball team played the varsity Mashpee team in Rockland. Going into the game, both basketball teams had an undefeated record, making this rivalry intense.

Prior to the event, during the school hours on January 7th, ongoing statements were exchanged between both teams’ fans through Twitter.

After hours of  snide comments and outrageous allegations, things finally went too far when a Mashpee student made a threat.

As the tweet spread through the school, a copy of it was finally given to RHS school officials.

RHS Principal Alan Cron stated,  “We received a printed copy of a twitter communication between a Mashpee teen and a Rockland teen which contained a threat. Coordinating with the Rockland Police Department, the Mashpee Police Department, and the Mashpee School Department, the Mashpee student was questioned, subsequently arrested and charged by the Mashpee Police with a threat to commit a crime and disturbing a school assembly. In preparation for the basketball game between Rockland High School and Mashpee High School, we put in place additional security measures.”

After the incident, Mr. Cron reported to the Patriot Ledger that when the Rockland student tweeted, “I’m scared,” the Mashpee student replied, “You should be, I’ve got a gun,” and said he would “shoot the place up” at the game.

“We take that very, very seriously,” Principal Cron said.

Many were curious if students of Rockland High School had instigated the teen who made the threat. Rivalries are common, and trash talk is even more common; but was it taken too far?

One of the captains of the RHS basketball team, Bryan Tavares, said, “I do not believe Rockland students instigated the situation.”

Senior Meghann Sullivan stated, “We tweeted just as much as Mashpee; the difference is, we were doing it for fun. The person who tweeted the threat clearly wasn’t thinking and took things too far.”

If social networking didn’t exist, such communication before the game would not have taken place.

However, social networking does exist and it is easy for teens to access.

Behind their cell phones, computer screens or technology devices teens, and even adults, feel a sense of security. Often it is not until later that they realize they are setting themselves up for the consequences of statements that go too far, as in bullying or threatening to cause harm.

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