A Britton Middle School student who bullied two classmates with harassing text and Facebook messages was cited for battery and other charges, police said.
Morgan Hill police began an investigation when the two 13-year-old victims reported the harassing contact to officers earlier this week, Morgan Hill police Sgt. Troy Hoefling said. The suspect allegedly bullied the students at school and at their Morgan Hill residence.
Police learned the suspect had threatened the victims and assaulted them electronically - an offense known as “cyber bullying,” Hoefling said. Cyber bullying is defined by police as any action or actions “that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm another or others.”
The city’s school resource officer contacted the victims and suspect at school, Hoefling said. The suspect was told not to have any more contact or initiate any further communication with the victims.
The suspect told police he would cooperate, but later that same day officers learned the suspect had threatened one of the victims in person after school at the Centennial Recreation Center skate park, police said. The suspect then sent more intimidating text messages and Facebook postings to both victims.
The school resource officer again contacted the victims and suspect and their parents, Hoefling said.
The suspect was cited on suspicion of battery, making harassing phone calls, disturbing the peace with offensive words likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction, and a municipal code violation for discharging a weapon (Air-Soft gun) within the city limits, police said. The student also faces disciplinary consequences at school.
Morgan Hill Police and the Morgan Hill Unified School District vow to continue to work together to bullying both in person and through electronic means.
“The Morgan Hill Police Department recognizes the immediate and long-term damage caused by bullying and will not tolerate this behavior,” Chief David Swing said. “I am proud of the swift and decisive actions of our staff that put an end to these students’ victimization.”
Police and school officials also encourage all victims of bullying to report the suspect or suspects to a teacher or other responsible adult.
Britton Middle School Principal Glen Webb added, “It is our intention and priority to collaborate with law enforcement in the interest of student safety. This case is a fine example of mixed jurisdictional cooperation. Acts perpetrated outside of school hours including confrontations and electronic communications that have an effect of creating a hostile or intimidating environment within the school can result in students facing both criminal and school consequences.”