Apr 18, 2017 5:38 PM
Incidents over the last two weeks have proven ways social media can be a dangerous place.
The popularity of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others raise concerns about how and why Americans are using the platforms.
In New Hampshire, officials and local leaders take those incidents seriously and have already integrated social media into their daily procedures so they can detect and investigate potential threats.
But detecting them isn't always enough, and those leaders have learned the key to stopping threats is educating, starting with young people throughout the Granite State.
Over the Easter weekend, a Cleveland man posted a series of videos on his person Facebook page, culminating in a video where he apparently shoots and kills an elderly man.
Steve Stephens first posted a video in which he discusses his intent to commit murder. The murder can be seen in a second video. Finally, Stephens took to Facebook Live and confessed to the shooting, according to Cleveland news sources.
On Tuesday, authorities confirmed Stephens shot and killed himself in northern Pennsylvania, ending a two-day manhunt for the suspected murderer.
Closer to home, a New Hampshire teen was arrested last week for allegedly threatening his classmates in an Instagram video.
The 15-year-old boy is a student at Nashua High School South. Police said they received several complaints about the post, which allegedly showed guns and was directed toward both the school and individual students.
While officials in Cleveland are still investigating the circumstances around the broadcasted murder, the reaction to the Nashua post suggested bullying may have inspired the student to act.
The situation also escalated when police said Instagram users started commenting on the video, telling the student who posted the threat that he should kill himself.
Both police and school administrators praised the school community for taking the threat seriously and reporting it.
Still, the incident sheds a light on a dark trend in just one of the many ways social media is used.
Capt. Denise Roy of the Merrimack Police Department said when the popularity of social media skyrocketed a few years ago, her department joined to stay connected to the community.
They're not the only ones, and Roy explained how social media has become a vital part of several police investigations.
"Most of the time, we start with people who are friends with the poster. Sometimes it's easier to go to a suspect's friends list and privately reach out to people using social media," she said. "It's amazing how much information you can get just by talking to people."
She believes most people use social media do so responsibly and want to do the right thing when they see something suspicious.
"Social media can be used in horrific ways," she added, commenting on the Cleveland murder. "Sometimes people see things, and they're afraid. People don't know if it'll become truth."
Roy said Merrimack Police have investigated many cases involving social media threats, even one very similar to the one in Nashua. She called some of them "alarming."
"It's easy to hide behind the computer," she said. "We really encourage people if they see something that makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up, consider reporting it. It never hurts to check in with us."
According to the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens reported going online daily, and 71 percent use more than one social media site.
Some New Hampshire schools, in response, are taking steps to make sure students use the Internet appropriately, especially when communicating with each other.
"The middle school years are a critical time for development. We try to focus on positive behaviors and values throughout the year, including an extensive effort this year regarding how we behave, how we treat others, what we do for others and more," said Brendan McCafferty, principal at Hillside Middle School in Manchester.
On Tuesday, the school hosted an anti-bullying rally for more than 500 students in grades 5-8, contributing to the school's year-long effort to combat bullying in all forms.
"We are constantly trying to improve the culture and climate for our kids and staff members," McCafferty said.
Manchester business owner Tyler Sullivan led the rally to teach students how to address bullying, both in person and online, using five steps: make it your business, be a friend, make kindness go viral, get your squad on it, and spread the love.
The program shared first-person accounts of bullying incidents and showed students how to stand up for themselves and each other.
"The big thing that kids need to walk away from today is how they are going to help when they see somebody else being bullied," Sullivan said. "I want the students to hopefully learn from the examples that we shared today and implement those behaviors to help eradicate bullying."
Team members from Manchester's Chill Spa have also been involved with the effort, regularly meeting with small groups of students since the beginning of the year.
"It’s not just about being kind. It’s how we respond to negativity, and it’s not easy," said Crissy Kantor, owner of Chill Spa.
Kantor and stylist Coco Lever advise the meetings, which students named the Killin' It With Kindness Club in the hopes of sparking an anti-bullying movement among their peers.
"Every six weeks or so we’ll meet, and in between meetings they’re doing other [projects]," said Lever, who experienced online bullying herself as an adult. "We go and give them ideas and just check in to see how everyone's doing and where they're at."
Kantor and Lever said the students have been receptive to the meetings and are spreading what they learned to their classmates.
Part of that includes spreading positive messages on social media.
In Merrimack, officials have also found speaking openly with students about bullying and internet safety effective.
"We do see bullying online. It’s very easy for kids to say things online that they wouldn’t face to face," Roy said. "Our officers regularly go to trainings, and some go into the schools to talk about the importance of using the Internet responsibly."
Roy said it's through these efforts that students build trust with the officers. They hope that students, like the ones who reported the threat in Nashua, feel comfortable reporting any suspicious behavior as soon as they see it.
That first report, she added, is most critical.
"Just coming forward and talking to us," she said, "can help prevent tragedies."
17 hours 3 minutes agoPolice arrested four people found loitering behind a town office building, including one person that they used a taser on. (More)
15 hours 18 minutes agoA tree removal company's attempt to uproot a mysterious object with steel legs that is lodged on a Rhode Island beach has been postponed....
15 hours 51 minutes agoA Hopkinton man has been arrested after being caught masturbating near a popular swimming spot, police said. (More)
16 hours 8 minutes agoThe Attorney General's Office released the identities of two people found dead inside a Haverhill residence. (More)
22 hours 17 minutes agoDiners got a pleasant surprise over the weekend when actor Matt Damon stopped into The Oar House on Saturday to eat lunch with his...
16 hours 39 minutes agoThe New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that letters written by a man who kidnapped and repeatedly raped a 14-year-old girl can be made...
23 hours 2 minutes agoA single-car accident on I-293 left a 31-year-old woman dead from her injuries Monday night in Manchester. (More)
21 hours 21 minutes agoA tree removal company will try to uproot a mysterious object with steel legs that is lodged on a Rhode Island beach. (More)
Aug 14, 2017 3:58 PMAuthorities in Salem took one man into custody after witnesses say he exposed his genitals while watching children play at the town park on...
Aug 14, 2017 3:10 PM
Aug 14, 2017 4:17 PMThe New Hampshire woman found unconscious behind the wheel of a car with her child in the back seat is being held on $5,000...
Aug 14, 2017 1:17 PMMiddlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan believes authorities recovered the body of a missing 16-year-old girl in the Merrimack River. (More)
Aug 14, 2017 1:04 PMThe Dover Police Department and Medical Examiner's office investigating the death of a 29-year-old woman, who likely died of a drug overdose. (More)
Aug 14, 2017 9:28 AMA clerk at a Manchester gas station reported a woman had been parked at the station's pumps for an hour. Police found a sleeping...
Aug 14, 2017 10:30 AMFire crews from several area towns used water and foam to extinguish a blaze at a home in a remote section of town Monday...
Aug 13, 2017 10:01 AMTwenty years ago, an angry loner with a gun murdered four people, two of them state troopers. (More)
Aug 9, 2017 4:33 PMIn a state that prides itself on the motto 'Live Free or Die,' New Hampshire has had a reputation for being a good place...
Aug 14, 2017 8:18 AMAttny. Gen. Sessions says the president would "do what is correct" in connection with weekend violence in Virginia. (More)
Aug 13, 2017 11:49 AMThe New Hampshire State Police Marine Patrol are investigating an untimely death. (More)
Aug 13, 2017 10:49 AMThe Pelham Police Department responded to two crashes this weekend that both ended with DUI charges. (More)
Aug 11, 2017 1:45 PMThe NHDES released a report Friday about contamination advisories for five state beaches and four lakes due to elevated bacteria levels. (More)
Aug 12, 2017 10:19 AMA hospital emergency department that was evacuated because of an unknown odor is expected to re-open, though authorities still haven't determined the cause. (More)
Aug 11, 2017 5:46 PMThe New Hampshire Department of Corrections is seeking the public's assistance in identifying a woman believed to have brought drugs into a men's prison....
Aug 11, 2017 4:45 PMRhode Island beachgoers are puzzled and concerned about a mysterious object lodged about 10 feet underwater just off Westerly's East Beach. (More)
Aug 10, 2017 2:47 PMOfficials are looking for a boat that struck a tube carrying two teenagers on Tuesday, sending one of the teens to the hospital. (More)
Aug 11, 2017 2:02 PMSeventeen staff members at Exeter Hospital fell sick Friday morning and had to be treated for symptoms of dizziness, nausea and vomiting. (More)
Aug 10, 2017 5:50 PMAerosmith's Steven Tyler visited the Granite State today and posed for pictures in a local business at Mount Sunapee Resort. (More)
Aug 11, 2017 9:40 AMPolice arrested over a dozen people on drug-related charges this week. (More)
Aug 11, 2017 4:19 PMHazmat crews are still working to determine the source of an odor that made 19 staff members ill and forced evacuations in parts of...
Aug 11, 2017 12:01 PMExeter Hospital has been evacuated and police and emergency crews, including several ambulances, are on scene. (More)
Aug 10, 2017 2:07 PMUnpaid lunch balances is leaving one school district thousands of dollars in debt, but a proposed policy could possibly lead to lunch shaming. (More)
Aug 10, 2017 8:19 AMOrganizers of the Rochester Fair are looking for ways to rejuvenate the event after shutting it down this year, citing mounting debt and lower...
Aug 10, 2017 7:45 PMAfter an investigation that began last week, an search warrant was executed and two suspects were arrested on felony drug charges for allegedly selling...
Aug 10, 2017 2:08 PMA day after the Manchester Sam's Club announces its upcoming closing, over 100 people lined up outside the store waiting for it to open...
Aug 10, 2017 1:45 PMA body found in Hampton Harbor on July 29 has been identified as a man from Florida. (More)
Aug 10, 2017 7:55 AMThousands of runners and spectators are expected for the race in Manchester Thursday evening. (More)
Aug 10, 2017 7:15 AMNorth Korea's reported plan is extremely specific, suggesting it is actually plotting a launch. (More)
Aug 9, 2017 12:18 PMNeedles popping up by public beaches has the North Hampton police chief warning the public. (More)
Aug 9, 2017 10:53 AMSam's Club in Manchester will no longer be in operation after August 18th, 2017. Other NH stores not affected. (More)
Aug 9, 2017 12:21 PMFormer N.H. Sen. Gordon Humphrey has written a letter to the state's congressional delegation, calling Trump's "fire and fury" threat to North Korea "crazy."...
Aug 9, 2017 6:14 PMThree charges against a Rye man accused of providing a teen girl with alcohol before sexual assaulting her last month were dropped Wednesday. (More)
Aug 8, 2017 1:50 PM
Aug 9, 2017 6:59 AMIan McCarthy had been sought for shooting and killing a Missouri police officer. He was also wanted in NH for skipping a court sentencing....
Aug 8, 2017 2:13 PMIf you are sick of those constant pop-up advertisements money or gift cards, then this article can provide relief for those virus-filled pages. (More)
Aug 8, 2017 6:08 PMDetails surrounding the double murders in Farmington were revealed Tuesday afternoon during a bail hearing. (More)
Aug 8, 2017 1:55 PMThousands of people attended the 4-day long Cheshire Fair, but some vendors have turned them from coming back. (More)
Aug 7, 2017 4:50 PMSome of your favorite cocktails served in Copper mugs may be giving you more than a hangover. (More)
Aug 8, 2017 5:58 PMThe state of New Hampshire is filling a lawsuit against the maker of OxyContin after a two-year investigation revealing deceptive marketing practices. (More)
Aug 8, 2017 1:50 PMThree people had to be transported to the hospital after a cargo van rear-ended another vehicle and pushed it into oncoming traffic Tuesday morning....