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Just found out that ds and his friend have set up a fake facebook account in the name of one of their schoolfriends and written filthy and abusive comments on people's walls and sent messages to others saying pretty much the same thing. Now the child whos the victim of this is getting picked on at school by the the people he's supposedly been abusing, although he's completely innocent! Just had a call from the mum of the 'victim' whos obviously distraught and rightfully so.. School has been informed, and the plan is to all meet up together later with the kids and have them spill the beans. As yet they are not aware that were all onto them. We know that the majority of the comment etc happened Saturday night when the kids were together at a sleepover so there's no way of telling if one or the other is more to blame.... Obviously all Facebook accounts will be suspended/deleted, phones etc removed as punishment but it just doesn't seem harsh enough to me... Any ideas? I feel like I've created a monster.
I think I would be talking to them about what they have done, and the consequences that their actions could have.
Don't be too OMG how could you do this - it is fine to show that you are disappointed in him, but don't over do it. It might have started as a joke and they got carried away, or it might have been an act of spite - let him explain how it started. Listen to him.
When you have all the facts, talk about internet trolls - people who deliberately post things online to hurt the feelings of others. Talk about how these people are real people, that it could be their mother, or their sister. And how some people are so hurt by these comments (if it is a sustained attack of bullying) that they do something to hurt themselves.
He knows it was wrong - he needs to see that it is not just a prank, but could have serious consequences both for the person he abused and for himself.
Not just short term consequences ie. the removal of his FB, mobile phone etc. Long term consequences - when kids do stuff like this, especially if their name is linked to what they have done - it can come back and haunt them later. Future employers and colleges/unis - they will google his name. Does he want this to be the kind of thing that they find out about him.
Ok thanks mmelindor.. Some good advice there, will have a look at that website. I know he knows its wrong, both of them do, and I've found out from speaking to the boys mum that this account was set up in April last year and that he knew about it and wasn't bothered, and nothing was ever written on it or done to it, it did start out as a bit of a joke... However everything that's been written on there in this instance happened on Saturday night, so maybe something happened between them all to spark it off... I'll listen to his explanation, for sure.
This all sounds like a very awkward situation. Realistically, banning your son from Facebook is not a long-term solution, as there is nothing to stop him opening up a new account and hiding it from you, even by using a nickname. This could lead to further deception which I am sure you all want to avoid.
Perhaps a better (and possibly harsher) punishment, would be for your son to keep his Facebook account open, but publish an apology in his status for all his friends to see. If he is genuinely sorry for his actions and wants to repair some of the damage done, this will be a good learning experience for him. His friends will respect the fact that he has taken a brave move and made his apology public (punishment fitting the crime and all that), and this also allows everyone to move on without a feeling of resentment hanging over. It might even make one or two who you say jumped on the band wagon of unpleasantness also show some remorse.
Just a thought, but as a Headmaster I am all too aware of parents who say "you are banned from this for life!" only to find the child is back doing exactly the same thing within a few days. In my view, it is often better to address the issue face on with a sense of realism.
I agree with not being too harsh with your son but I don't agree with publishing an apology in FB. I guess the best way to do it is bringing all the kids including your son to personally say sorry to the victim and people the message is sent.