Analysis: This time parents fueled rumor of gun at school on social media which police so far call ‘unsubstantiated’

Social media has been blamed for stoking fights between students at schools in Haverhill, but the Facebook platform appeared to amplify parents’ spread of what police said were ‘unfounded’ rumors of a gun on fire seen at prom Friday at a college.

There were no first-hand reports of a gun being seen or used during the Spring Fling dance at Dr. Albert B. Consentino School, but several parents have reported their children’s third-hand claims. . One of only two parents who posted their child actually saw a gun later walked back the claim, saying ‘my son didn’t see it with it, but he ran to safety. He was terrified of being shot. »

Principal Richard Poor confirmed in an email sent late Friday evening to parents that “students were evacuated from the school and the Haverhill Police Department was contacted” around 6:30 p.m. He repeated “the report of a weapon is unfounded”, noting that the school was “swept and cleaned with great caution”. He acknowledged the event was “traumatic for our entire school community” and spoke to parents about a community gathering on Saturday afternoon at the school.

Haverhill Police said in their own social media posts: “The investigation is active and ongoing. Will provide updates as more information becomes available. Anyone with information regarding this incident, please contact Detective John Orsillo at 978-373-1212 ext. 1557.”

The gist of the rumour, as reported by one relative, is “…there was a fight. The children were expelled from the dance. Then someone went to his house to get a gun. The ball kids were all running outside. There were children hiding in the woods behind the school. Another parent said ‘windows were smashed and everyone was running, children were on the floor and trampled’. A variation, posted by a parent, claimed the children were outside when “the gun was pulled out and then it was fired in the air”.

There has been no independent confirmation of the claims. A mother, however, who said she was waiting outside for the dance to end, said: “I saw pretty much everything that happened. I didn’t hear a gunshot. »

Independent analyzes of such situations are virtually impossible with the secrecy laws imposed by the state legislature, which are compounded by the algorithm-based hate propaganda allegedly employed by some social media outlets.

Others resorted to “whataboutisms”, claiming that the presence of a seemingly unused knife in an incident at another school somehow proved a cover-up.

A parent urged families to appear for public comment at next Thursday night’s school committee meeting, saying: ‘It’s time for us parents to take a stand for our children. We have to show the school committee that we are tired of the violence in our schools. Our children deserve to feel safe at school and not have to worry about what might happen. The invitation offered no suggestions on what action school committee members might take, but another parent expressed support for the installation of metal detectors.

The school committee recently called for the confiscation of cellphones from students whose social media posts encourage bad behavior. The Committee has no such authority over parents’ phones.

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Donnie J. Milburn