It’s being called the latest way for teens to attack other teens online – tweets coming from virtually anonymous Twitter accounts that can be viewed by classmates.
The trend appears to be growing. Canyons School District spokesman Jeff Haney said this week the district has seen several issues with the handles, with names often including a reference to their school of origin, or the school’s mascot.
The handles may be sprouting up at a rate of nearly one per high school and junior high, Haney said.
A sampling of several handles revealed not all the accounts are ill-intentioned, and some are a mix of good and bad. Others are sprinkled with obscenities and address teens by name.
One of the handles in question, @Binghamprops, slammed one student’s appearance on May 14: “Props to (name withheld) for having pillows above his eyes #shave?”
Another handle, @Rivertonprops, posted: “Props to all the guys who only talk to (name withheld) so they can stare at (name withheld and an expletive).”
Other Twitter handles are tied to Alta High School and Crescent View Middle School.
The Canyons District is trying to address the issue. While some staffers comb the Web for offensive content, another answers and tries to remedy complaints.
Canyons School District chief civil rights officer Melissa Flores acknowledged free speech issues, but said anything that causes another student to feel uncomfortable, harassed or threatened at school results in discipline.
“If you have to walk down the hall and think how many of these people are linking me with what’s been said about me online, then it’s very difficult to concentrate in a calculus class,” Flores said.
The district has a reporting system in place on its website.
While some of the teens either implicated in or disparaged by the handles declined to speak about the issue, others who shared no ties to the posts were outspoken against them.
“Teenagers are cruel, heartless little animals,” 15-year-old David Brown said. “Nobody really looks at how the other person will feel when they say stuff like that — I mean, they just think it will be fun.”
His older sister, two years removed from high school, expressed outrage over the anonymity of the attacks.
“It’s like wearing a mask when you do something bad,” Julie Brown said. “It’s easier to do something bad.”