A Massachusetts high school principal said cyberbullies who targeted some of his students are worse than the insurgents he fought in Iraq and vowed the anonymous posters would be found and punished.
Joshua Romano, principal of Murdock Middle/High School in Winchendon and an Iraq War veteran, logged on to the school’s Twitter account to warn perpetrators who attacked some students’ sexuality and appearance.
In one response to the anonymous Twitter accounts, he wrote: “This is Mr. Romano. I find the content of this site to be largely vile and ignorant.”
In another he said, “These tweets better disappear immediately and the WPD (Winchendon Police Department) and I will be dealing with individuals who posted here on Monday.”
He also sent an email to the school’s roughly 700 students calling the cyberbullies “pathetic cowards.”
“I have more respect for insurgents I fought in Iraq than I do for people behind this Twitter account,” he said in another email. “At least Iraqis had the courage to face their targets and not hide behind a Twitter account.”
He later backed off that comment, telling WFXT-TV that “I poorly worded my comments about Iraqi insurgents.”
The offensive Twitter accounts have since been deleted.
Romano told The Telegram & Gazette he took such direct action to convey the message that the conduct is not acceptable.
“I wanted to assure the victims and their parents that we would move quickly and decisively to end this kind of harassment,” he said.
He said he heard from one parent who thought his tactics were too harsh but pointed out that the person’s child was not a victim of the bullying.
If the perpetrators are caught, they face school discipline. However, they are unlikely to face criminal charges, police Lt. David Walsh said, because so far their actions don’t reach the threshold of a criminal harassment charge.