Who's Watching?

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It was a parent of a student at O'Brien Middle School, in Stead, who first told Scott Grange, the principal, about a threatening photo posted on the popular website, MySpace.com.
"The kids were afraid to come to school. The parents were afraid for their safety because they didn't know the nature of the seriousness of the actual threat itself. They didn't want to be here."

He says three boys were in the photo had a gun and wore gang attire.
Underneath the photo a caption warned others at the school about crossing these students.
He says students tell him use of the myspace website is usually positive, IF that use is strictly monitored by parents.

"The students who aren't very well monitored say they have free access to whatever they want. They can access porn, addresses of dealers... they can pretty much get whatever they want off this website."

17-year old Haley Carlson and her friends are regulars on MySpace.com.
"Most people I see on there are my age... I talk to a lot of friends I don't talk to at school. It's a good way to connect people I don't see everyday."

She says all the information on the site, available to anyone who logs on, doesn't concern her.
"What I thought when I first got on it was that it was a lot safer because a lot of the information on there was up to your choice. I didn't realize that just anybody could look at it and I didn't think people would spend their days looking at profiles."

But, this is exactly what Grange wants teens to understand: nothing is private on the internet.
"It's more widespread than just their own world. I don't think they understand this is a national and a global phenomenon. That when they share information anybody can look at it whether it's predatory or innocent."

The identity of the boys involved at O'Brien Middle School, and how they were disciplined, has not been released because they are all juveniles.
But the district assures us the punishment warranted the behavior.