In the wake of a social media threat against the Chelsea High School posted last Friday, School Supt. Mary Bourque is putting students and parents on notice that there will be zero tolerance for any threats – whether verbal, written or posted on social media.
As a major footnote to that warning, she said she is initiating a citywide campaign aimed at parents of school-age children – calling them to be vigilant about checking their children’s’ social media posts.
“Any threats, whether verbal, written or posted on social media we will prosecute and we have prosecuted with our relationship with the Chelsea Police,” she said. “As a practice, the Chelsea Public Schools always talks serious threats to the schools and well-being of the schools. There are protocols we have with the Chelsea Police about prosecuting these matters. We will have zero tolerance for any threats.”
This follows on a threat made on Friday, March 2, via a social media post by a student at the high school. Using the protocol – and especially in the current environment following the school shooting in Florida – police quickly checked out the threat, searched the student’s home and determined it wasn’t credible.
But that didn’t get the student off the hook.
Police, according to protocol, placed the juvenile student under arrest for posting a threat via social media.
It won’t be the last time either, Bourque said.
And that got to the heart of the matter for the schools, and that heart is the schools want parents to really monitor their children’s’ social media accounts.
“We need help with this, as does every school district,” she said. “We also want to work with parents to start monitoring what their Chelsea are doing on social media. For us, it’s getting control of what’s going on in social media that’s of paramount importance…We need parents to be paying attention to all of the accounts. No child should have a password their parents don’t know about.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and members of the City Council have also been asked to help with the campaign, and will do so.
“There has to be a zero tolerance for this,” he said. “Kids can’t be posting these kinds of things on social media. They will get in trouble for it. There are just too many serious things going on with this to be making these kinds of threatening posts.”
Bourque said there have been no credible threats discovered from the posts that have happened this year, including the one on Friday.
Most of the time, she said, it’s about posturing, but it’s a posture that’s going to land kids in serious trouble.
“It’s mostly students trying to portray themselves as something they are not,” she said. “They are bad judgment calls in putting themselves out there in that way, but it’s something that will get them in trouble.”