Middle school bullies hit photo-sharing site

Instagram account removed, but criminal investigation can’t begin without a complaint

State Journal staff report Published:

An Instagram account that a school official says bullied Elkhorn Middle School students and others has been taken down after the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office requested it be blocked.

The account posted pictures of Frankfort students with captions that “absolutely just slaughtered the person on there,” according to Sheriff Pat Melton.

“They just said anything you could think of that’s nasty,” he said. “Very, very, very inappropriate language. They blasted appearance, sexual experience, things you wouldn’t expect a 13- or 14-year old to say. It would make a sailor blush.”

Melton said his office found out about the account late Tuesday.

Once it was discovered the account was posting inappropriate tems about students, he said his office sent a message to Facebook, owner of Instagram, the photo-sharing social media site.

The account was down by the following morning and hasn’t reappeared, Melton said.

“The action that we took was for the safety of the school and the students that were there because it was so inappropriate,” Melton said.

He said he doesn’t know who was behind the Instagram account because the postings were done anonymously, but if the perpetrators are caught, there could be charges of harassing communications and harassment, both misdemeanors.

A criminal investigation cannot be launched unless a victim files a complaint.

Willie Bartley, Elkhorn Middle School principal, said students from Frankfort Middle School and Franklin County High School were also involved.

“The culture here is fine, the bullying was happening outside of school,” he said. “Instagram is outside of school.”

Regardless, Melton said the children’s behavior was in poor taste.

“It was kids talking about kids and unfortunately kids can be very cruel,” Melton said. “It’s just very, very poor taste. I think our children are better than that.”

Franklin County Superintendent Chrissy Jones could not be reached for comment.

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  • Middle School students bully at every level in every school. That is the nature of this age group in which being different automatically makes kids become high-risk for being bullied by those desiring to be cool at another child's expense. It is absolutely up to teachers to step in and help stop it whenever it is witnessed. In fact, both middle and high schools need to catch up with the times and put together a student court where bullies are prosecuted by students before the entire student body. Bullies will only change their tactics when there is a risk of embarrassment attached to their behavior.

  • That hasn't been my experience at all at EMS. My child was harassed by another student, I told the principal, the other child was immediately moved away from mine, disciplined, and it never happened again. They do not turn a blind eye. They do talk about prevention and they proactively try and prevent bullying. The teachers and principal are great, and having had 2 kids there I can say that any concern I brought to a principal's or a teacher's attention was addressed quickly and appropriately.. This idea that it's a "cesspool" is just flat incorrect. However, parents bear the blame for letting their kids on social media without monitoring it...or teaching their kids how to act. We can all work harder to make sure that kids aren't bullied. But there's no indication here that this happened in the school, during school hours.

  • What a joke! EMS is a cess pool of bullying...instead of taking action against bullying and incorporate bullying prevention - teachers, principals, and counselors just pat the victim on the back and tell them to grow a thicker skin. Bullies get a few words and just get sent back to class. It happens everywhere because parents and educators turn a blind eye to it. God forbid it be the well-to-do parents' children doing the bullying. And Melton might do good to look in his own home and teach bullying prevention there too.