STUDENTS SUSPENDED FOR FACEBOOK THREATS

October 26, 2010 Updated Oct 26, 2010 at 7:10 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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October 26, 2010 Updated Oct 26, 2010 at 7:10 PM EDT


Several Newfane Middle School Students are in trouble after using Facebook to harass a classmate. School officials say two 6th-graders created a Facebook event Thursday night October 21,2010. The purpose of the event was to invite participants to annoy a fellow student on Friday October 22, 2010. The event was scheduled to happen during school hours at Newfane Middle School.

Sixty invitations were sent to Facebook contacts. "Many students did not reply to the invitation which went out on Thursday evening. Ten students accepted the invitation. Two said they might attend the event by going to school and acting in such a way towards that student. And we had five students who declined the invitation which I thought was a powerful public statement", says Principal Thomas Adams from the Middle School.

School officials were tipped-off by the intended victim's parent. Principal Thomas Adams says he was able to find out all the details of the plot by accessing Facebook. He also found threatening messages. One referring to the victim said, "I'll kill him if you want me 2"

The schools Niagara County Sheriff's Resource Officer helped investigate the matter. He determined that no specific evidence or planning had taken place to carry out any violent act.

Because the students are juveniles, information about their status is limited due to confidentiality. However, Principal Adams did say that suspensions were used.

Newfane Middle School recently updated their handbook to include new regulations for students who use social networking sites and 'texting'. They also included a "Bully-Button" on the schools web page where students can anonymously make reports of harassment and bullying.

Today, the US Department of Education issued new warning to schools, colleges, and universities to take stronger action in regards to ethnic and sexual or gender-based harassment. The situation at Newfane Middle School did not fall into those categories. But according to Adams, "Bullying and Cyber-Bullying and abuse in that way is nothing that we are turning a blind eye to."