The Biggest Threat: Our Peers Behind the Screen (News Story)


Graphic by: Megan Ingram

Valerie Questell, Clubs Editor

   Social media has become an exceptional “mask” for most people and most importantly, teens. Any social media user has the ability to remain anonymous or even impersonate whoever they wish. A 12-year-old from Pembroke Pines, Florida shows this unlawful abuse of power with social media. 

   Nia Whims–a South Florida teen–was recently arrested and charged with posting threats to an educational institution and administration on social media until authorities came to the conclusion that this young girl was framed (Daily Mail UK). An IP address revealed that a 12-year-old was actually responsible for the anonymous threats. They had access to Nia Whims’ personal information including Nia’s full name, number, and email addresses, and the result was a regular day that soon turned into a code yellow lockdown for Renaissance Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Florida. But even after putting Nia through stays in juvenile centers and psychological evaluations, authorities could not prove that the address matched Nia’s, leaving the enigma of this case to be efficiently solved but also leaving Nia with the embarrassment and trauma. Now, the 12-year-old remains with a $30,000 lawsuit and charges proceeding the case. 

   Mrs. Fernandez–the behavioral specialist for the Class of 2022 at Pembroke Pines Charter High School–not only acknowledged this unfortunate event but also shared her opinion on how this could have been a regular day after all. “The situation is unfortunate, but a reality of our times.” Mrs. Fernandez said. “In my opinion, the situation escalated because all stakeholders were not working together to determine and address the threat.  In situations like these, parents need to work together with law enforcement and school officials to make sure all students and staff are safe in our school environments.” Mrs. Fernandez, along with security and administration have similar thoughts regarding this tragedy. Mr. Bayer–the principal at Pines Charter–feels that social media has been more of a barrier than a threat to teachers and administration. “I do know that school security and social media are two of the biggest challenges for educators today.”

   Debate club sophomore Lauren Trybalski explains “During these times, school violence is very touchy and matters like these are taken seriously even if it was a joke.” As an active member in debate, she had read and analyzed this article and shared her thoughts. “I know that in my opinion, I would be severely worried if I had seen a social media account from our school making threats. Even if it was a joke or a prank, to whom the threats are made should definitely have serious consequences if not expelled.” In her perspective as a student, school violence like this can be frightening. Walking in the hallways and being in school in general can insight emotions never felt before. Given this fact, it is important that not just students but also as people, to take this topic seriously with sentiment. 

   During these times of remembrance and sorrow for the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, as well as other similarly tragic events, this topic presents high urgency; threats are not to be taken lightly.