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New Training DVD Focuses on ‘Social Media and School Violence’

by Ty Bowers  -   February 12, 2014

Veteran Investigator, Top Law Enforcement Officials Share Insight on Problems of School Violence

NW3C's training DVD focuses on how social media can help with the investigation and prevention of school-related crime. (Image credit: 2152477 Copyright Matty Symons, 2014 Used under license from Shutterstock.com)


Today’s youth increasingly live much of their lives online, interacting across social networks, gaming platforms and other Internet portals. What goes on in these virtual worlds often happens out of view of parents, teachers, school administrators and law enforcement.

Sometimes the first indications of a troubled young person appear online in the form of a social media update, blog post or video. In some cases, a teenager’s online activities indicate violent or suicidal thoughts and actions. For example, a 16-year-old in rural Minnesota began posting disturbing blog entries and violent videos online more than a year before embarking on a shooting spree that led to the deaths of seven people at Red Lake High School.

Lt. Chuck Cohen, a veteran cybercrimes investigator and social media expert, conducts an extensive case study of the 2005 Red Lake shooting as part of NW3C’s new training DVD for law enforcement – “Social Media and School Violence.” The six-part instructional video covers how social media and other related Internet platforms and technology can provide investigators with critical evidence, and in some cases, crucial forewarning of criminal behavior in school communities.

Young people often provide clues online about gang activity, drug dealing and other criminal behaviors before they happen. Learning about trends in social media and the ways in which students interact is essential to proactive policing. The issue confronting today’s law enforcement, especially School Resource Officers (SROs), is how best to utilize this new data in their daily work and in criminal investigations.

The training video contains invaluable, up-to-date information on social media trends and other material designed to help law enforcement personnel who work with youth today. The video also features interviews with several law enforcement executives from across the U.S., each of them offering unique insight into the problem of school violence and ways to confront it.

The two-hour program is divided into six chapters:

  1. Case Study: Jeff Weise. For more than a year before killing several classmates and himself, Weise posted numerous violent and suicidal items on blogs and social networks.
  2. Historical Perspective. Over the years, perpetrators of mass violence have often presaged their violent acts with disturbing messages or other indicators. In the age of social media, these forewarnings have come in the form of online messages and other content.
  3. Evolution of Online Social Networks. Social sharing platforms change rapidly, and so do the ways in which young people interact online.
  4. Interactions with Internet Service Providers. Learn what types of data and content Internet Service Providers can provide to law enforcement.
  5. Emerging Trends. Discover how the social networking world's rapid evolution will affect online investigations.
  6. Interacting in Social Communities. Conducting investigations online requires extensive preparation and clear agency guidelines.

“Imagine what would happen if we pre-empted a mass shooting … because of just a few words some young person might have said (online),” Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter said in his interview featured on the NW3C video. “That’s success.”

NW3C is providing copies of the “Social Media and School Violence” DVD to law enforcement free of charge. To request your copy, click here.


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