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Melrose teens caught drinking through Facebook pictures

Posted by Sean Teehan  September 21, 2010 05:09 PM

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Police are investigating the second set of Facebook picture printouts depicting Melrose High School students drinking and smoking marijuana sent to school and police officials in the past few weeks, Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle said yesterday.
                   
School Resource Officer John Ross received the initial set of photographs around Sept. 1, Lyle said. The pictures, sent anonymously, displayed what Ross identified as 37 MHS students at a house party involved with the "consumption of marijuana, or alcoholic beverages, or in the presence of [them,]" Lyle said. Police are investigating when or where the party or parties occurred, he said.
 
All 37 students and parents were contacted and met with Ross, who showed parents the incriminating photos individually.  

Although MHS has strict drug and alcohol policies, especially for student athletes, the school left punitive action to the parents, said Patricia Ruggiero, Melrose High School's athletic director.

"We feel that this is an issue that the parents can work out with their child," Ruggiero said, adding that easily manipulated Internet photos couldn't stand as sole evidence of wrongdoing.
 
In a joint statement about the first set of pictures sent, Lyle and Melrose Superintendent Joseph Casey noted their disappointment with the situation and encouraged parental mediation.
 
"Parents are the primary and first line of defense to this problem," the statement said.
  
With the investigation of the first set of photos still underway, police received the second set of Facebook printouts last week, Lyle said.
 
"I take a lot of pride in what I do and when something like this happens, it's like a kick in the gut," Lyle said. "I find it something very disheartening for me that [after] everything we've done to educate kids about the evils of alcohol...and drug abuse and what it does to individuals."
 
Lye said department officials will meet with parents of teens in the photos.
  
"Those are the questions that will be asked of parents and guardians: 'Is this your basement? Is this your living room? Did you condone this in your house?'" Lyle said. He added that the department may enact the Social Host law, which fines parents for underage drinking at their residence, whether or not they were aware of the illegal activities.
  
Troubling as he finds the alleged drinking and drug use of Melrose teens, Lyle expressed concern for students with pictures of them engaging in illegal activities online, where the public can see.
  
"These photographs can come back and haunt these kids," Lyle said.

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