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Teenager in jail for making joke while playing online game

Most teenagers are still learning what is and isn’t appropriate to say in a social setting. It’s even difficult for adults to understand sometimes! But in some cases, the words a person says can get him or her into trouble, even if there was no bad intent. Some Oakland kids have been charged with a juvenile crime merely for making a joke or saying something that someone else perceived as a threat.

A teenager from Texas was arrested after making a joke while playing an online multiplayer game. When another player typed a comment calling the teen insane, he responded saying he was crazy enough to cause violence against schoolchildren. He then followed up his comment with “lol” and “jk,” meaning he was laughing and only joking.

However, a Canadian woman saw the boy’s comment and called the police after looking up his address and discovering he lived near a school. The boy was arrested the following month, and has been in jail since March. He spent his 19th birthday in jail, and faces an 8-year prison sentence.

The teen’s parents have started an online petition to have his son released, saying that too many innocent kids are being arrested because of anti-terrorism laws, impeding their right to free speech. Authorities have responded by saying all potential threats must be taken seriously in light of recent school shootings.

In a case where a teenager is arrested for making a joking comment on an online site, a strong defense will be necessary. Whether or not the joke was in poor taste, there’s a big difference between kidding around and actually carrying through a plan to harm others.

Source: The Daily Caller, “Texas teen makes violent joke during video game, is jailed for months,” Robby Soave, June 27, 2013

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