Police, school officials look for Mt. Hope 'cyberbully'
Bristol police and Mt. Hope High School administrators are trying to determine the identity of a "cyberbully" who has posted insensitive and vulgar remarks about students on an anonymous Twitter account over the past few weeks.
On Friday, Jan. 18, a Mt. Hope student called police after finding an objectionable post about herself on a Twitter account just opened under the name "Sh**ofmthope." At about the same time, school administrators, including Dean of Students Nat Squatrito, started hearing from students about the account and its content, including comments that could have been construed as hurtful or inflammatory. On Monday, Bristol police Lt. Steve Contente confirmed that police had received a complaint from at least one student and are investigating the account. He would not comment further since it is an ongoing investigation.
Mr. Squatrito said Friday that officials have been asking around and are trying to identify the person behind the account. It's a difficult task, he said, as it is easy to create an anonymous Twitter account and posts can be made from anywhere, making it difficult to tie any account to a specific computer.
"We're looking into it to see if we can find out who created the website," said Mr. Squatrito, who has been working on the matter with school resource officer Keith Medeiros. "It's hard to trace. We're doing our best."
In looking for the poster, Mr. Squatrito said the school's responsibility is to prevent bullying, including cyber-bullying, and protect students. In previous cases, when inflammatory remarks have been posted on Facebook and other Social Media sites, administrators who found the person responsible have asked that they remove the posts, and for the most part students have complied. Mr. Squatrito hopes that happens in this case.
"It falls under bullying, which is prohibited in the student handbook," he said. "We certainly don't want that kind of thing out in cyberspace if it's affecting our students."
As of Friday, many of the posts that were made by "sh**ofmthope" had been removed, but the account was still active Monday.