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Paulding school officials investigate social media threats

11:33 PM, Mar 13, 2013   |    comments
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DALLAS, Ga. -- Paulding County officials are investigating reports of threats involving East Paulding High School that were posted on social media.

The Paulding County Sheriff's Office said they began receiving calls late Tuesday night that messages had been posted on Twitter that mentioned the school and a gun.

The sheriff's office contacted school officials and posted extra officers at the school Wednesday morning. The officers were looking for any weapons and keeping a general eye on the situation at the school.

Paulding County Associate Superintendent of Schools Brian Otott said no weapons were found on the school's campus, and the school was never placed on lockdown.

Investigators said four students at the school and their parents were questioned in connection with the threats.

School officials wouldn't reveal the contents of the messages or who posted them.

Detective Donny Pace with the Paulding County Sheriff's Office said it should serve as a warning to parents and students.

"In this day and age, given the real violence we've seen at other schools across the nation, anything written on social media can have serious consequences regardless of whether there is serious intent," said Pace.

One parent complained to 11Alive's Duffie Dixon at the school that her son was one of the four being detained but that he only added comments online after the fact.

She said her son retweeted something and then wrote the lyric from a rap song.

Pace said even re-posting something and commenting on it can be enough to get you in trouble.

"You may not face any criminal charges, but schools take it very seriously.  They have their own set of rules and ideas of what is not acceptable when the name of a school and the word gun is used," said Pace.

Three months ago, there was a similar incident at Flowery Branch High School.  More than a thousand parents rushing to pick up their kids after a teenager posted something considered threatening on Instagram. She insists she was talking about a fictional dart game when she said she wanted to shoot fellow students.

Law enforcent and school officials say it is simply impossible to tell from words on a screen who is serious and who is looking to play a joke or prank.

"I would say to kids to keep in mind that even a comment or re-posting something can have serious consequences for all those involved. Don't risk it," said Pace.

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