MMSD encourages parents to talk with kids about social media following student arrest

MMSD encourages parents to talk with kids about social media following student arrest

The Madison school district is encouraging parents to keep a conversation going with kids about their social media use after the arrest of a middle school student last week.

A 13-year-old boy was arrested Friday afternoon after posting images on Snapchat of him holding a fake gun and making vague threats against Black Hawk Middle School.

The boy arrested said his images were supposed to be funny, and investigators determined there was no legitimate threat to students or staff members, but school districts won’t treat any sort of threat as a joke.

“Kids, especially teenagers, they’re going to do stupid things,” school security and safety coordinator Joe Balles said. “Unfortunately, in today’s world when they do it with a phone, within a matter of seconds, dozens, if not hundreds of people can see that mistake they’ve made thinking they were doing something funny or as a joke.”

He said so many kids told their parents about the pictures, that by the time he called authorities, they were already aware of the situation.

“That, I thought, was huge,” Balles said.

That’s why he wants parents to keep an eye on their kids’ phone use and create a positive relationship around social media so they feel comfortable coming to them.

“Quite honestly, if more kids found out that other kids were going forward and telling their parents and that the Madison Police Department may be showing up on your door to have that conversation with you about what you said on Snapchat, that might get them to change their minds a bit,” he said.