“I’m Going To Kill My Kid:” Violent Threats Online Should Be Taken Seriously

Some conversations on social media are fleeting. Here today, forgotten tomorrow. Some stick with you forever. Others, forgotten for a while, can come back to haunt. This is the story of one of those conversations.

A frustrated mother, Twitter, and the police

Back in 2009, a mother frustrated by bedtime battles with her daughter vented on Twitter, setting off a series of events that eventually led to her writing a post warning people to watch what they say on Twitter because “big sister is watching.”

In her post, the author wrote that the people who know her, know the relationship that she has with her daughter — one that includes love, frustration, awe, annoyance, anger and bliss. She described the bedtime situation she was facing with her daughter, a frustrating game that is repeated each evening, and which ended with her venting on Twitter by asking if it was okay to smother her daughter. She explained that this was just part of her black humour and she was enraged that someone who hardly knows her at all had the gall to have the police sent to her house.

In the comments, it becomes apparent that the woman she was enraged at didn’t call the police after all. Instead, she (and numerous others) replied to the mother’s tweet and when they didn’t get a response, they reported it to Twitter. Eventually someone did call the police and they likely obtained information on the woman’s identity and whereabouts from her Internet Service Provider because the police showed up at her door and insisted on ensuring that her daughter (sleeping at that point) was okay.

Some commenters on the post were just as enraged as the author and thought it was ridiculous that anyone could take it seriously. Other commenters said that reporting it to the authorities was the right thing to do because no one would be able to live with themselves if the mother did in fact hurt her daughter.

In a follow-up post the next day, the author (still upset, but somewhat calmer than the previous night) said that she understood the concern. But she called on people to name cases of situations where parents published a tweet, Facebook status update, or blog post prior to abusing their child. Unfortunately, today, I found that case.

Australian father kills daughter after Facebook update

In the Ottawa Citizen this morning, I read about a case where an Australian father killed his daughter shortly after updating his Facebook status to “bout to kill ma kid.” An article in the Sydney Herald provides more details on the time line of events.

  • The girl, Yazmina (almost 3 years old), lived with her mother, Rachelle D’Argent. D’Argent had been beaten by her ex-fiance Ramazan Acar (Yazmina’s father). She had an “intervention order” (sounds similar to a restraining order) against him. Acar had apparently never been violent towards his daughter.
  • One day, D’Argent arrived home with Yazmina and saw her ex parked outside their flat. Yazmina was so excited to see her father, so D’Argent reluctantly agreed to let Yazmina go with Acar to get a chocolate at a nearby store. Acar promised to bring her straight back, saying “Do you trust me? I wouldn’t take her away from you like you took her from me.”
  • Ten minutes later, when they didn’t return, D’Argent called Acar and asked where they were. He said they had stopped at McDonald’s and would be back soon.
  • Around 7pm, D’Argent called again and Acar said “How does it feel to not have your child when I didn’t have mine for three months” and demanded that D’Argent have the intervention order removed (she refused).
  • At 7:23pm, Acar updated his Facebook status to “Bout 2 kill ma kid” and then sent text messages to D’Argent saying “I loved you” and “It’s ova I did it.” At 7:34pm, he updated his Facebook status again to “pay bk u slut.”
  • In less than an hour, D’Argent was with the police and called Acar again. He repeated that he was going to kill her and asked if she had any last words for the girl. Yazmina said “I love you” to her mother over the phone and D’Argent replied “I love you too.” Acar then hung up.
  • At 8:47pm, Acar confessed over the phone. “I’ve killed her. She’s just lying there next to me.” He went on to explain that he didn’t care that he would have to go to jail because he did it to get back at her.
  • At 11:20pm Acar updated his Facebook status again to “I love you mimi.” He was arrested by police 10 minutes later.

There were just over 80 minutes between the time Acar posted his initial Facebook status update and the death of his daughter. There was not enough time to wait for a reply back to an “are you okay?” or an “are you serious?” message. How many people saw his Facebook status update and assumed he was just kidding? I hope no one did, because that would be incredibly difficult for that person to bear.

Taking Threats Seriously

We all use social media to vent. Whether it is a full blog post, or a quick status update, it can be a way to let off steam. We need that outlet and people in general, and mothers specifically, are lucky that social media can sometimes help them to overcome isolation and give them a place to share their fears and frustrations with others. But, there is a line we all need to be conscious of. That line can be different for each person, but I believe there is a point of no return which no one should cross and that is one of threatening violence. Tone is not always evident when reading the typed word and especially in the fast paced world of social media where many of us are following people who we have never met in person, there is really no way to tell if someone is just joking around or if they are being serious.

So I need to draw a line in the sand and say that I will take you seriously. If you tweet, update your Facebook status, send an SMS or otherwise indicate that you plan to hurt yourself, your child, or someone else, I will take it seriously. I will act. I may send the police. It can save lives. It has saved lives. If there is any doubt in my mind whatsoever about your intentions, I will err on the side of caution. I will alert the authorities because being sworn at and called names is a lot better than the alternative.

Related Posts:

Man Sentenced for Encouraging Others to Commit Suicide

Beware of Facebook Depression

—-
Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.

Image: Annie Urban

74 comments

Marisol F.
Marisol F5 years ago

When I was 8 yrs old, my brother angered me so much that I shouted to him that I hated him and hoped he died during the night. The babysitter heard me and asked me what if he really did die during the night. She said that I loved him and would never forgive myself if he'd died. She added that he might die because I wished that on him. I prayed a lot that night that he wouldn't die. The next morning, when I saw he was still alive, I hugged him and told him I was glad he didn't die because I really did love him. That situation taught me a valuable lesson. Since then, I have never, ever said anything like that to anyone. I always think, "What if this person suddenly died? How would I feel about what I said?" Even joking, people should be careful about what they say or do.

I know a person who told her mother that she hoped her mother would die. Her mother died shortly after that and she's been tormented ever since.

I don't think people should joke about harming someone on FB or Twitter because the general public might not know it's a joke. In some places, it's even illegal to do that because it's perceived as a threat to someone. The laws need to catch up with technology.

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donald baumgartner

I DON'T TWEET!!

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Sam R.
Sam R.5 years ago

"If you tweet, update your Facebook status, send an SMS or otherwise indicate that you plan to hurt yourself, your child, or someone else, I will take it seriously. I will act. I may send the police. It can save lives. It has saved lives. If there is any doubt in my mind whatsoever about your intentions, I will err on the side of caution. I will alert the authorities because being sworn at and called names is a lot better than the alternative."

I had a friend in California who I only knew through LiveJournal, but he'd been a good friend, sending me a little money when times were hard and always being around with something sympathetic to say when I was down. He'd been going through a hard time, and when he announced in his journal that he was going to go kill himself, I took him very seriously. I called the police in his home town and sent them to find him. I tried to contact his other friends to see if any of them were local so they could go find him. Sometime while he wasn't online, he changed his mine or was delaying to think, and they found him still alive. That was a frightening time for me. If you let someone die when you could have helped, I guarantee you'll regret it. Caring and acting can save a life.

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Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Tough call, but some of us VENT a little more vocal than others, and usually, it means nothing but letting off steam. The ones that don't ever display any anger have been known to be the serial killers NOBODY suspected.

I've been "guilty" of yelling a bunch of nasty "threats" to my dog or one of my horses when they've disobeyed and done something unacceptable, and never did what I was threatening to do, and THANK GOD, the neighbors never heard me, or they'd have called Animal Control! I wonder how many frustrated Moms told their child,"knock it off or I'll KILL you!"?

I have posted on some of my "groups" about saying different things when riding my horse, such as one that always wanted to break into a run and I'd "chant", "WALK or you're going to the glue factory, two, three, four", etc. Now, he didn't have a CLUE what I was saying, and the rhythm of my voice ended up slowing him down. What IF somebody who read what I said went overboard and mistakenly thought I would have sent my horse to slaughter IF he had not walked?

I guess you have to be cautious when "reading" what COULD be "violent" threats, but you also need to use a bit of common sense......BUT I'd rather have Animal Control come and ask than deal with a dead animal later, OR CPS investigating a possible case of child abuse vs. a dead kid.

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Adam G.
Adam G6 years ago

this guy is a sick, filthy turd. I really hope the screws in his gaol let him into gen. population & tell everyone else there what he did. then go to lunch & leave events to follow their natural course...

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Danielle Herie
Danielle Herie6 years ago

WOW

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Luisa A.
Luisa A6 years ago

words as actions should be taken seriously, if they did many people,children and animals would be safe from harful sitations!!!!

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Loo Samantha
Loo sam6 years ago

danger when mind takes over heart.

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Ernie Miller
william Miller6 years ago

There are some sick twisted people out there. And I am sure most people know which ones they are in their circle of aquaintances. I have heard my sister say them words in frustration but at the same time had a smaile on her face. like any written word you must take it the same as the written word. If some one reads something Odd they need to make sure the person is safe or at least OK. Forget the text or teit give them a call listen to their voice and if you hava a concern act. So often when a person is upset just a word from friend will help. I some how dont thnk a tweet or IM will accomplish the same effects.

Joe R. Shame on you! you know as well as I do some people are as sweet as can bee untill they are married or reacha certain point in their realtionship and becore abusers. The mother may have gotten involved with a very loving person that turned into the monster he became.

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Arielle Black-Foley

Our dependence on using social media in this way is really a dangerous move. Rather than be angry at others for being concerned, the mother should have realized the consequences of posting something like that in a PUBLIC SPHERE.

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