People who want to ban the social networks might consider what can be learned on them about at-risk youth. Peers and adults can detect and have found threats in blogs and profiles in time to avert violence, and law-enforcement people certainly are monitoring the sites. The challenge is the obscurity of some of them, such as VampireFreaks.com, where shooter Kimveer Gill posted many hints about violent intentions (he committed the mass shooting at Dawson College in Montreal last week), New Criminologist reports. The Ottawa Sun looks at the importance of early detection. It mentions the arrest of two 17-year-old Wisconsin teens after threats of violence they allegedly made were reported to the principal of their school. “Officers found guns, homemade bombs, ammunition, mannequin heads used for target practice and even suicide notes written by the pair in their homes. They were depressed, hated school and felt like outcasts.” Monitoring social sites can also aid the detection of suicidal tendencies, the US’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline told us (it has profiles on MySpace where teens can get their friends help), as well as of eating disorders, self-mutilation, and substance abuse.
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