February 9, 2013

“Whisper” app causes disturbances at Marathon High School

A social media application caused several disturbances at Marathon High School Thursday as students used the app to post anonymous comments about one another, about relationships and about school.

The application – called “Whisper” – purports to be a platform allowing young people to express themselves and their feelings without fear of having others know who they are. Developers say they are targeting college students who feel the need to talk about how they are feeling without judgment.

Users do not have to identify themselves and, indeed, can change their user names at will and even use other peoples user names when posting photos and text. On Thursday, student postings in Marathon resulted in School Resource Sergeant Glenn Test having to investigate two battery reports, a disorderly conduct and a possible “cyber-stalking”.

In one battery report, two girls pushed each other after one thought the other’s boyfriend posted negative photos and text about her on Whisper.

In another incident, one boy went after another boy over derogatory postings on Whisper. The boy’s confrontation was stopped by teachers before it could get physical.

The reports did not result in any arrests to date, although the “cyber-stalking” report is still under investigation. The school, however,  did hand out administrative sanctions to some students. One of the main concerns for everyone is the disruption the app caused and the potential for teens – already going through an emotionally turbulent time of their lives – to engage in bullying behavior, or to be bullied.

“Parents should be aware of this particular application and whether their child is using it. The potential for anonymous bullying is concerning to all of us who care about our kids and want them to be healthy and happy,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

“We are working closely with our schools to monitor this situation. We have sent out notices to all of our School Resource Officers and detectives who investigate juvenile crimes so they will be aware of it. We just want to make sure the public – and in particular parents – know about it as well,” he said. 

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