Explicit tweets about teens go on

Account gains followers but flow of content slows

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

Published:

 

Adults across the country and even across the Atlantic appear to be all abuzz about the Twitter account set up Feb. 6 for Clark County teens to log graphic descriptions of their alleged sexual experiences and drug use.

After media coverage from as far away as New York and London, the account has more than 5,300 followers, with 1,500 added since Tuesday night.

However, there are only 200 new tweets since then.

The posts are anonymous, so students are not identified, but each post identifies which Clark County high school the student attends.

The Columbian is not naming the account.

On Feb. 6, when it was set up, students across the county were released early due to a coming snowstorm. During the almost five days away from school because of the snow, the Twitter account gained more than 3,000 followers. Clark County has more than 78,000 K-12 students in nine school districts.

"Evergreen Public Schools takes student safety very seriously," said district spokeswoman Gail Spolar. "Clearly, this is happening outside of school."

With almost 27,000 students, Evergreen is the largest district in the county.

Spolar said that although the Twitter account and its followers "are outside the jurisdiction of the Evergreen Public Schools," the district has Internet safety measures in place.

Although school districts do not monitor websites that are not district-sponsored, all school district filters block Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites on district comput

ers and networks. However, when students have their own broadband and data plans on their cellphones and other devices, those are not filtered.

Schools teach students how to be safe online. Students sign contracts promising to be good digital citizens when online at school.

"Digital citizenship, bullying and harassment are all part of our district curriculum," Spolar said.

Vancouver Public Schools has made its principals aware of the Twitter account, according to a statement released Friday. The district "makes every effort to block sites that are harmful to minors."

"The site in question has anonymous postings with little or no identifying information," Vancouver Public Schools said. "If the school district becomes aware of postings that specifically identify students, we will take action if warranted. We address student safety issues immediately and take all allegations seriously that are disruptive to the school environment."

Officials at the county's three largest school districts -- Evergreen, Vancouver and Battle Ground -- said they encourage parents to monitor their kids' online accounts and to be aware of what sites they are visiting and whom they are following.

"To my knowledge, we've had no parent complaints at all," Spolar said.