Explicit Facebook postings concern Portage parents

November 10, 2011 6:35:26 PM PST
Students at a northwest Indiana high school are being investigated for Facebook pages containing sexually explicit postings about other students.

The posts target middle school and high school students in Portage, Indiana.

The Facebook pages in question have been taken down after a complaint by a parent who found one of them and called school officials.

There were four pages in all that involved students as young as sixth grade. The school district and police do not know who started the pages. Officials say, at this point, they want to use the incident to teach students about the dangers of cyber bullying and educate parents about the importance of monitoring their kids' activity on the computer.

Leslie Rosenbaum was on Facebook and saw something on her wall that caught her eye. It was a page titled "Portage Bustdown."

"I clicked on the page and I couldn't believe what I saw," said Rosenbaum. "The words coming out were ridiculous for how old the kids are."

The kids were in middle school, the same age as Rosenbaum's daughter. While this Valparaiso mom reported the site to the superintendent, the Portage High School's resource officer was made aware of three more similar pages called "Portage Bussas," "Portage Girls" and "Portage Bust."

"They were very graphic and sexual in nature...the way they described certain things females might be doing," said Portage Police Officer Troy Williams.

Williams immediately contacted Face book to get the sites removed, but he found it wasn't that easy, as Williams had to go through a series on online steps.

"It would be easy if Mr. Zuckerberg would create a 1-800 number for law enforcement to contact...typically it seems like it takes a few days, even a week to get down when you have situations like this," Williams said.

Unless the site is subpoenaed, Williams says it is difficult to find out who started the Facebook pages.

The school does know some of the students who participated. Portage High School Principal Caren Swickard says many of them were freshmen and sophomores as well as kids at the middle school.

"Cyber bullying is one of these things I think we are all going to be dealing with if we don't get a handle on how people can post anonymously on these websites," said Swickard.

Swickard and Williams say the school and police can help with education and awareness.

The rest is up to parents to monitor their kids, and that is Rosenbaum's motivation for reporting the sites. Rosenbaum says parents must be vigilant.

"My daughter, I have her password, she knows I go on her Facebook all the time...I grounded her from it before for adding people she doesn't know," Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum says her sixth grade daughter did not participate nor was she the subject of the Facebook page postings.

These sites are not unique to Portage High School. Officer Williams pulled up similar pages from other northwest Indiana towns. Williams said easy to open an anonymous Facebook page.

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