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When should offensive online chat be reported to the school?

(9 Posts)
frettery Tue 27-Dec-16 15:50:38

DC (13) is in a WhatsApp group with school friends. A few days ago one of them posted some abusive messages - including racist insults aimed at nobody in-particular, and some explicit sexual references aimed at a particular girl on the group.

The boy then apologised and blamed his older brother (who isn't at the same school) for making the posts while his phone was charging. As all this was in the middle of the night he then "spammed" the board with hundreds of junk messages so the originals would be less visible when others woke up next morning.

The conversation has since moved on without comment from the other students, so I don't know if they scrolled back and read the messages.

But should I report the incident to the school? If I was his parent I would want to know about it, and at the very least I think this boy needs to be advised to get some password protection on his phone.

GnomeDePlume Wed 28-Dec-16 07:34:01

Hmmmm... tricky. Why are you thinking of involving the school? I ask this because I dont see this as a school issue but as a parent/friendship group issue.

Your DS could suggest to his friend about the password protection. Not sure what the school involvement would achieve other than possibly getting a boy into trouble who hasnt done anything wrong.

Take this as an opportunity to talk to your DS about the risks of online communication getting out of hand. Remind him that anything (comments, photos 'likes') put online is permanent, and nowhere near as private as he might imagine even if he is password protected at his end . Also, making and sending photos of themselves is illegal.

DoItTooJulia Wed 28-Dec-16 07:41:16

I'm new to secondary school stuff, but I was wondering about this the other day. My ds is in a similar group and felt like one of the boys was being mean to him.

We have talked about it-he is having a break from the group, I've told him how if ever he sees this kind of meanness directed at someone else that he is to call it out and that this kind of stuff is only going to get worse as he gets older.
But I did wonder at what point the school should be told. (I'm not going to over this, but it got me to thinking.)

Racist/aggressive bullying type stuff is report-it's up to them if they want to do anything with the information, but they can't do anything without it.

pklme Wed 28-Dec-16 07:53:33

I think they have sorted it out themselves- the boy whose phone it was apologised and actually was quite sensible with the spamming to hide old messages. The group as a whole seems to understand boundaries. The older brother was a dick, but they often are and enjoy embarrassing siblings. That would be for the brothers and their parents to sort out.

Shortandsweet20 Wed 28-Dec-16 08:19:05

If it could be an issue of bullying - towards the one girl I would speak to head of year at school or year group pastoral person. Sometimes it can be harmless but you never know, just ask their advice they will have dealt with it before.

MaureenMLove Wed 28-Dec-16 08:52:03

If you have pastoral team, I would give them a ring next week and just mention it. It sounds as if the boy really was hacked by his brother and he did the right thing by getting as much on the tread as possible to avoid others seeing it, but just make the school aware.

It could spill over into school and they may also be aware of something in this lads life that you don't know, so just mention it.

It doesn't need to be an accusation, just a cautionary note to the school that this has happened.

I know that at my school, we would be happy to keep a distant eye on the group. That's what the pastoral team is for. We are the students school mums.

nocampinghere Thu 29-Dec-16 10:22:18

tbh in this instance i would leave it
the boy has apologised/blamed someone else/tried to prevent others seeing/others have ignored

he and they know it is wrong. i'd be pleased about that. use it as a discussion point re nothing can be deleted, screenshots can be taken, used as evidence, online bullying etc...

maddy68 Thu 29-Dec-16 10:29:29

This is not a school issue. Online comments should be reported to CEOps

chocolateworshipper Thu 29-Dec-16 10:47:02

I thought it would be worth mentioning that sending these kind of messages on social media is against the law. Here are some points worth noting:
1. Even if the group chat was deleted, it remains saved on computers as nothing is ever permanently deleted from the internet. If the police request a copy, WhatsApp would be obliged by law to provide it.
2. The boy (or his brother) could be found to have broken the law under section 1 of The Malicious Communications Act 1988. This covers any communication which is "grossly offensive" or which "conveys a threat."
3. The boy (or his brother) could be found to have broken the law under section 127 of The Communications Act 2003 which makes it an offence to send through a “public electronic communications network” a message that is “grossly offensive” or of a “menacing character.” There is no requirement that any person sees the message.

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