Facebook comments lead to legal trouble

Colac police have warned youths to think before they act when using social media.

A COLAC youth who used Facebook to boast about threats they made against their teachers has prompted a warning from Colac police.

The Colac Herald understands a Colac school has expelled a student for making threats over the phone.

The student then posted about the incident online.

Leading Senior Constable Terry Woodcroft of Colac police says Colac and district teenagers should think before they react and be aware of the consequences that could result from using social media to publicise their actions.

“Any person in Victoria makes themselves liable to charges under the telecommunications act and can also, depending on the circumstances, make themselves liable to charges under the crimes act,” Sen Const Woodcroft said.

“It is important that members of the community in general know that they can make themselves liable if they misuse their phone or they misuse social media.

“The really, really big factor in all of this – and it’s a theme that I constantly use in my presentations and all my dealings as my role as the youth officer – is that we simply must think through our reactions and responses.”

Barwon Headspace manager Toni van Hamond said there were alternative avenues available for young people who needed to talk about issues.

Ms van Hamond said youths could speak to someone they trusted – like a teacher or a sport coach – or she said they could talk to people anonymously through the Kids Help Line.

“Sometimes they need to focus on their feelings rather than letting everyone else know how they feel,” she said.

“Certainly in view of the new age of technology from all aspects young people have got to be really aware that it can have significant repercussions.”

Ms van Hamond said it was important for youths to think before they acted.

“They need to be very aware of what they write, when they write and how they write it.”

The Colac Herald contacted the school involved, but a State Government spokeswoman said the school and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development were not able to comment on the matter because of privacy.

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