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Mar 1, 2013 12:28 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Update: Students facing harassment charges for "Falcon Problems" Facebook page

Two Falcon School District 49 students are facing harassment charges stemming from a Facebook page called "Falcon Problems."

The school district alerted the El Paso County Sheriff's Office to the page out of concern about insulting posts and comments about students whose pictures and names were posted on the Facebook page that has since been taken down.

"We did see that this was worth calling the sheriff's office and having them do an investigation because of the content page," explained Stephanie Wurtz with the district.

Investigators claim some of the posts were threatening in nature and with the help of tips the sheriff's department has identified Alexander Natale, 18, and Kyle Pate, 18, as suspects and both are being charged with class-three misdemeanor harassment.

"When you think about some kind of altercation that occurred between people face to face you'd think everybody would recognize hey that's a problem we shouldn't have those things going on," explained Lieutenant Jeff Kramer. "Sometimes I think people mistakenly think hey if my communications stay electronic it's not quite so bad."

But that isn't the case, online threats can be considered just as serious as threats made in person. There have been an increasing number of similar Facebook pages in school districts across Southern Colorado and prosecution of those who are responsible.

"We certainly see a trend in the use of social media regarding bullying, harassment, threats," described Susan Payne, founder of statewide anti-bullying group Safe2Tell. "A lot of damage, emotional and social and legal damage can be caused."

Payne explained that her group and law enforcement are taking cyber-bullying on social media sites more seriously. Some claimed the "Falcon Problems" page was just a joke or "kids just being kids," but Payne said there's no excuse for online harassment.

"We have to look at the environment in which we live today and the culture and climate that exists with young people," she explained.

Falcon School District 49 may take additional action against the students responsible for the "Falcon Problems" page after the sheriff's office completes its investigation.

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