INDIANAPOLIS — The selfies are posted to Facebook â€” photos of fresh-faced teens who are said to have chlamydia, to have had abortions and to have shot up drugs.
The posts describe their body parts as “chewed up bubblegum,” “dirty” and “ratchet.”
“She has had sex with over 100 men,” says a post with a photo of an innocent-looking girl wearing glasses and a baseball cap.
The posts are on a page set up at the end of December by a person who uses the name Molly Thots. It is unknown whether the user is male or female.
In the profile, the person professes to live in Greenfield, Indiana, and to attend or have attended Greenfield Central High School.
School officials and police in Hancock County say it is one of the most disturbing cases of Facebook bullying they have seen.
The person not only posts the photos â€” most of which seem to be pulled from the victims’ social media accounts â€” but also uses the names of the targeted teens, mostly girls.
“I am very saddened that whoever posted this offensive Facebook page takes joy in causing anguish for others,” said Greenfield Superintendent Linda Gellert.
The school system is investigating, although Gellert said she is not positive the person responsible for the page is a Greenfield student.
Gellert reported the page to Facebook and the Greenfield Police Department. Within hours of the page being taken down, a new page by “Molly Thots” was created with the same purpose.
“I am distressed at how quickly the page regenerated on Facebook,” Gellert said.
The existence of such a page doesn’t shock Tonia Cupp, the mother of a senior at Greenfield Central.
“I’m not surprised, not at all,” she said.
Cupp said her daughter recently showed her a Twitter page mainly devoted to nasty tweets about the band and color guard, of which her daughter is a member.
She said she has seen social media postings from teens saying things such as they “want to slit your throat and watch you bleed.”
That’s criminal, she said.
Cupp, who is a hair stylist in Greenfield, admits the school can do only so much.
“It comes down to parents,” Cupp said, adding that she has passwords and user names for her daughter’s social media accounts, even though her daughter is 18. “If my daughter put that out there, I would be mad.”
Cupp says the school system is not alone.
“I don’t think it’s any better at other schools,” she said. “And I don’t think it’s any worse. It’s the world they live in.”
The Greenfield school system blocks Facebook use at school and on its student and public Wi-Fi.
“This, however, does not prevent students from posting through personal cellphones and tablets,” Gellert said.
And Molly Thots posts frequently. The name, of course, is fictitious. “Molly” is a slang word for the drug Ecstasy, and “thot” is often an acronym for “that ho out there.”
Sometimes, on the page, the bullied teens fight back.
One girl who was tagged in a post and called a “nasty hoe” responded: “Whoever it is props for being able to sleep at night knowing your self esteem is so low you have to go ranking people you barely know because of jealousy.”
Molly Thots responds to those comments with “likes” and “lol” (laughing out loud) and calls them other names.
None of the Molly Thots targets could be reached for comment.
But clearly, cyberbullying can be harmful, said Mandy Grella, a licensed clinical social worker at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.
“Substance use, resistance to going to school, maybe some health problems,” Grella said. “Lower self-esteem, lower grades.”
After looking at the page, Grella found it hard to describe the posts.
“They’re awful,” she said.
In many ways, cyberbullying is worse than in-person bullying. Online allows a broader audience to witness the attacks.
“And it’s 24-7 now, so it’s free game,” Grella said. “Someone who is trying to cyberbully, they can post something in the middle of the night for anyone to see before you even know it.”
That bullying shouldn’t be happening on Facebook, said Matt Steinfeld, a spokesman for the social media company. He said the company does not allow anonymous pages and prohibits abusive and harassing behavior aimed at private individuals, although the company said it hadn’t taken down the original Molly Thots page because it had not been alerted to it.
Although he declined to comment specifically on the Molly Thots page, he said any instance in which someone’s photo is shared with harassing (info), “it most certainly would be removed from Facebook.”
Greenfield police said they are looking into the page.
“If it’s something we see as a credible threat,” said Maj. Derek Towle, “we’ll look into it and see what’s going on.”