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Alarming confessions

A new Facebook trend is revealing some disturbing high school activity in Thunder Bay. Well, at least if the students and some of their outrageous online confessions are to be believed.
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(Facebook.com)

A new Facebook trend is revealing some disturbing high school activity in Thunder Bay.
Well, at least if the students and some of their outrageous online confessions are to be believed.

“I used to snort crack off toilet seats in the girl’s bathroom,” reads one of the so-called confessions posted by a local high school student to a Facebook confession page.

“Every time I’m drunk at school I try to be as creepy as possible to the hot teachers,” reads another.

The confession pages have popped up on Facebook over the last month, giving current students and alumni a chance to either air grievances about their school or confess to undesirable behaviour, which includes criminal activity.

One poster, claiming to be a Sir Winston Churchill alumni and former student body president, claims to have sold drugs to younger students. 

Several local high schools have or had confession pages set up by students or former students, each with hundreds of ‘likes.’ These pages aren’t exclusive to secondary schools, as a Lakehead U Confessions page had more than 3,500 ‘likes’ as of noon on Tuesday. 

The confessions aren’t always personal to the person making it, and sometimes target third parties likes teachers
and other students.

Lakehead Public Schools spokesman Bruce Nugent said they’re aware of the groups and are reviewing the pages.

“We have spoken to Thunder Bay Police and have sent an email expressing our concerns to Facebook,” he said in an email response to tbnewswatch.com.

“We have made a complaint with Facebook through their formal complaint process.  I have not heard back from them. The pages will continue to be monitored, but some seem to be taken down and then reintroduced. It is extremely unfortunate that social media is being used in this manner.”

Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board has taken another course of action to combat these groups.
St. Patrick High School principal Francis Veneruz said his school’s confession page was brought to his attention on Monday. He spoke to police and found out that the best way to take the page down was to have a victim come forward.

Veneruz said a staff member filed a complaint telling Facebook to remove the page because it had inappropriate comments about the staff member.

“About four hours later, around lunchtime, the webpage was taken down,” he said.
Unfortunately, the website was brought back up on Tuesday.

“It’s very upsetting. Staff come to work every day and try and help educate students and do the best they can. All of a sudden, some individuals turn it around and make very disgusting comments and they’re untrue comments.”

He said he would prefer students talk to staff members or have their parents speak to staff about issues they may have about teachers instead of turning to social media.

Veneruz spoke to a few students whose names appear on the confession pages and explained what the consequences could be for making those kinds of posts.

Thunder Bay Police Service spokeswoman Const. Julie Tilbury said police don’t monitor social media websites and will look into cases that have a criminal element to them. Inappropriate comments don’t count as criminal.
It boils down to if the comments pose a safety risk or not, she said.

She said there’s also the problem with people being anonymous online. That poses a problem for police who want to follow up on a comment posted online to see if those comments are true or not.

“It’s put police and probably schools and a lot of organizations in a position that sometimes doesn’t allow them to do a whole heck of alot because everything is behind anonymity,” she said. “It makes it difficult but if something comes up that’s of grave concern we’ll do everything we can to get the companies to cooperate.”

Many of the comments posted on the Facebook confessions involve using or even selling drugs. Tilbury said they don’t have the resources to track down these kinds of comments that provide little information and may turn out to be false.

She added police receive many drug tips daily.

“If the community ever knew how much drug information we get, they would be floored,” she said.