Teen Crime Commissioner Resigns Over Tweets – But Is That Fair?

It’s a sad day for teens everywhere – and many of them don’t even know it. This week, one of their own has faced harsh judgment and severe consequences for (relatively) harmless tweets.

This case will undoubtedly be the first of MANY instances where young people find their online identities coming back to haunt them IRL (in real life).

Are we setting a standard that’s too high and possibly treating these kids unfairly – or do teens just NOT belong on social media sites?

The Kent Police and Crimes Commissioner, Ann Barnes, recently completed her search for the first Youth Crime Commissioner, a role intended to “provide young people’s views on policing.” And 17-year-old Paris Brown was selected out of 164 candidates because she was a “confident and articulate woman,” said Barnes.

What an honor.

But that honor quickly turned into a hard lesson for the young girl after someone took a close look at her Twitter account and found these tweets, apparently written when she was between the ages of 14-16 – and resulted in her being labeled as “violent, anti-gay and racist.” Ouch.

We say these tweets are “relatively harmless,” because although her tweets were horrible, they’re NOTHING when compared to many teens’ tweets.

They talk about sex, drugs and express horrifyingly ignorant or just mean-spirited opinions on pretty much every topic. The examples that keep popping up are typical teens at their worst, most shocking moments and they’ve yet to realize the global spotlight they’re under nor the consequences they’re going to face in the immediate future.

Paris has realized it though – realized it and resigned from this ‘chance of a lifetime’ position in light of the mounting pressure and criticism.

Commissioner Barnes says “there have now been complaints from a number of people to the police who believe that the tweets quotes may constitute an offence.

“This will undoubtedly lead to sustained media interest and Paris and her family have reluctantly decided to decline the offer of employment for the reasons stated in her statement.”

Referring to the comments, Mrs Barnes went on: “Posting messages is part of their everyday lives and I’m sure many people today would not have the jobs they are in if their thoughts in their teenage years were scrutinised.

“It’s a very sad world that Paris is now hostage to those comments she made.

“I do not condone them at all. But I do feel they should not shape her future. Everyone makes mistakes.”

She added: “I totally accept that the media have every right to be inquisitive and investigative. It is their job to break stories.

“However, particularly in the shadow of Leveson, I do not believe it is their job to break people – particularly when they are as young as Paris.

Do you agree? Is it time for parents to pull the social media plug – or should we all ease up a bit when it comes to slamming kids for what they say online?

I know I’m glad social media wasn’t around when I was a teen!

(Teen image from Shutterstock)

@MaryCLong maryclong@digitalmediaghost.com Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.