As evidenced by recent news coverage, high school college student crime is significant and is an evolving and expanding area of the law. With the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, twitter, YouTube, etc., issues involving high school and college students have become widely publicized and come under intense scrutiny and criticism. The ever-evolving world of social networking websites has opened the lives of its users to the public, carrying with it certain advantages and disadvantages. This technological phenomenon, which has created links between different people and cultures of the world, has resulted in a need for the development of new laws to police people’s online actions. There are many issues arising from the use of social networking websites, such as privacy issues, internet scams and phishing, negative repercussions of website use in areas of business and employment, and the protection of children. For instance, high school students may now be held accountable for their actions on social networking sites, such as bullying other students, making threats against teachers and students, and posting inappropriate content or images. Similarly, on college campuses, students have been subject to punishment for partaking in illegal activities such as underage drinking, drug-related offenses, and sexual assaults on other students. Social networks can be a resourceful tool to market yourself or your business, reconnect with old friends, and even find romance; the important thing is to remember that these sites can be misused, and have damaging repercussions to high school and college students that may potentially affect their future. Criminal prosecution in court and expulsion or suspension from school or college can be expected when crimes are committed or exposed using social networking sites.
While many social networking sites have age restrictions in place to regulate their user base, it is quite simple to enter a fake birth date and gain access to these sites. The problem with young users is that they are not aware of the risks that these social networking sites create. Many young people share too much information online and do not realize that anyone with an Internet connection can view it, even pedophiles, employers, teachers, their school nemesis, and their parents. Even police departments have begun to integrate the use of social networking sites in investigations. The Boston Globe reports that police officials in half of fourteen departments surveyed admitted to using social networking websites to gather information when investigating crimes involving young people. This is the root of the problems now faced by an increasing number of high school and college age students.
USING SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES TO CATCH CRIMINALS
Social networking has also come under scrutiny due to the tendency of teen bullies to target teen victims on the sites. Bullying has become a serious and widespread issue in the United States, with the National Crime Prevention Council reporting that 43% of teens were the victim of bullying in the past year, and has called upon the sites to help prevent bullying and catch those committing the acts. For instance, videos of beatings and humiliation have been posted to the popular video hosting website YouTube, and have caused certain individuals to take their own lives due to the ridicule and embarrassment felt from the posts. The videos themselves have actually led police to the identification of the bully and introduced the video or posting as evidence against them in trial.