31 Jul 2012

Pre-teen, Teen Girls under Arrest for Online Impersonation


Two girls, aged 12 and 13, were arrested and face charges of third-degree felony after creating a fake Facebook account impersonating a classmate with clear intent of harming her.

The two children from Granbury, Texas used the fake account to discredit their colleague by sending out threats to other kids in the friends’ list. It appears the two girls intentionally “cultivated a bad reputation for the victim,” according to Lt. Johnny Rose of the Hood County Sheriff’s Office.

The girls have remained in jail for almost two weeks to await their detention hearing. Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds stated that this would be the first arrest in the county related to the online impersonation law since its enactment in 2009.

According to this law, “a person commits an offense if the person, without obtaining the other person's consent and with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person, uses the name or persona of another person to: (1) create a web page on a commercial social networking site or other Internet website; or (2) post or send one or more messages on or through a commercial social networking site or other Internet website, other than on or through an electronic mail program or message board program.”

The victim's mother was the one to press charges. She told Hood Country News that the fake Facebook account was created when her daughter was only 11 and, since then, the girl has experienced serious problems with her classmates. Her daughter suffers social isolation and aggressive outbursts from her peers.

In felony juvenile cases in Texas, minors are usually placed on probation and released to their parents, or transferred into Texas Youth Commission custody. The number of teenagers punished for online behavior is on the rise. Both police and schools are less tolerant with children who act out online and use cyber-bulling, bad jokes, impersonations and misbehavior on social networking platforms to get back at their peers.