Eight female students at Marystown Central High School targeted by online poll

Colin Farrell colin.farrell@tc.tc
Published on February 18, 2016

An online poll discovered by a student at Marystown Central High School (MCHS) has become the subject of a police investigation.

©Facebook

An online poll discovered by a student at Marystown Central High School (MCHS) has become the subject of a police investigation.

“We have to contact the website administrators, which we’ve done,” said RCMP Const. Michael Collins.

“They contacted me — basically, they have to refer to legal counsel.”

Titled “Biggest slut of MCHS,” the poll asked people to pick one or more names from a list of eight female students.

Collins said he was in contact with the site’s legal representation to discuss the matter and asked for a Internet service provider (ISP) number, “so we can locate who originally created it.” 

The poll, which has since been taken down at the request of the RCMP, started making its way around Facebook Monday after it was discovered on the site strawpoll.me owned by Curse Inc., an American company based out of Delaware.

Collins said once located, the creator of the poll could be facing legal action.

 “The charge would be defamatory libel,” he said.

Apart from legal ramifications, the creator of the list could also be subject to disciplinary actions from the school, said Jeff Thompson, associate director of education for the province’s English school baord.

“Where the student has now broken the school code of conduct with regard to appropriate behavior,” he said. “Then the school would put in place a punitive piece, which might mean a suspension from school for a short period of time.”

He said the student or students who made the list could also lose certain privileges, such as technology in the school if it were found that it was used it to create the list.

Some of the students whose names appear on the list have voiced their opinions on social media, calling the creator childish and immature, as well as saying if that is all they have to do with their time, they need to get a life.

The Southern Gazette reached out to some of the students named, but out of respect for the others affected, they declined comment.

Thompson said it is disappointing to see this taking place in schools.

“It is unfortunate when we have one, but it is more unfortunate when we have more than one,” he said. “And we certainly have had more than one of these instances throughout this year.”

Thompson said although he is not sure of the total number, the polls have been an issue throughout the province.

“This is an example of how we don’t want people to behave, our mode of operation is to help young people make good decisions about how they interact with each other,” Thompson said.

Rudy Hoskins, a member of the school council, said she was upset when she saw the list.

“(I was) very disturbed that somebody would post something like that on Facebook,” she said.

Having served a number of years on school councils, Hoskins has seen bullying in the past.

 “But now where kids are involving social media, it just gets more alarming and scary for parents to see things like this on Facebook,” she said.

Hoskins said she reached out to the students who were sharing the list on social media.

 “It was just giving the people who created the list in the first place what they wanted — that’s publicity, and to hurt the people who were on that list,” she said, adding when used properly social media can be a powerful tool.

“I think it is also a tool now that people are using more for bullying or degrading other people unnecessarily,” she said.

“When it is used like this, I think there are certainly going to be repercussions — it hurts the people that are named on the list. We have to do more to educate the young people on the dangers of social media when it is used in such a way that it was this time."  

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

colin.farrell@tc.tc

@Colin_TCMedia