AVON, Ind. (WISH) — Parents called for increased mental health awareness and anti-bullying measures at Avon schools after a series of abusive social media posts targeting local students.
The anonymous Instagram user behind the defunct “avonconfess” account began posting photos of students with insulting captions last week. Several posts urged children to take their own lives.
The account used the Avon Middle School North logo as its profile picture but has no affiliation with the district.
On Thursday, authorities said Avon school police identified and detained a juvenile who claimed responsibility for an Instagram account “targeting young female students.”
Officials and administrators did not confirm if it was the avonconfess account, which no longer appeared to be active Thursday night, and declined to share further details about the juvenile.
“Each time I looked, it was just updated. More and more students were being targeted,” said Ashley Staley, whose 12-year-old son attends Avon Middle School North.
On Oct. 2, her son’s photo appeared on avonconfess.
Staley tried to shield the seventh-grader from cyberbullying. She told him he had been featured by the notorious account but refused to show him the post.
“It’s troubling. It’s scary,” Staley told News 8. “We have got to take this stuff seriously.”
She reported the account to Instagram and went to her son’s school to share her concerns with administrators. The district responded days later, she said.
The Avon Community School Corp. (ACSC) addressed the district’s handling of the matter after fielding complaints from parents, students, alumni and community members.
“ACSC filed multiple complaints with Instagram regarding this egregious fake account,” a district spokesperson said Thursday in an emailed statement to News 8.
The district has a “strong Mental Wellness Team” of counselors and social workers who help students and staff address bullying, administrators added.
Parents feared cyberbullying could escalate to cyberthreats if administrators and authorities did not respond swiftly to alarming social media posts.
On Thursday morning, police increased their presence on Avon campuses after residents reported a post shared by another anonymous Instagram user.
The “avon_sucks2020” account posted a photo of nearly a dozen firearms with the caption “Which one should I use to shoot up Avon?” followed by a laughing emoji.
“Law enforcement responded immediately and investigated this to ensure the safety of staff and students in our schools,” administrators said in a letter to school families. “The threat was not deemed credible and was not directed toward any school.”
The school shooting threat remains under investigation, according to Avon police.
A avonconfess parody account with the same profile picture is sharing uplifting content. The anonymous user behind “realavonconfess” posts photos of Avon students with complimentary captions.
“Not only is this young woman gorgeous, she’s also sooo caring and an amazing person!!!” one post said.