TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) – The 13-year-old boy accused of shooting another boy with a rifle is under GPS monitoring following a dangerousness hearing on Oct. 11.
The Bristol County DA’s office says the 13-year-old boy was deemed dangerous at the hearing, but released with GPS monitoring and “strict conditions.”
Taunton Police the boy was being bullied on social media, and the group of boys doing the bullying showed up at his home on Monday. Feeling threatened, police said the teenager retrieved his mother’s rifle and wound up firing at one of the boys.
Dr. Elizabeth Englander from the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University says she wasn’t “terribly surprised” that bullying could lead someone to resort to violence.
“I think that children of that age tend to often be very impulsive,” Dr. Englander said. She studies childhood behaviors like cyberbullying.
“What this case really shows you is the danger of letting bullying incidents just slide, and not dealing with them and responding to them,” Dr. Englander said.
She says children often report higher levels of distress from online bullying incidents.
“All people are emboldened online,” she said. “Because you’re not looking at the person you’re speaking to, and that makes you feel like you can say things that you normally would never say to another person.”
Dr. Englander said children shouldn’t have access to weapons without supervision.
“I think it’s pretty well established that if people are in the heat of the moment and they have access to weapons, they will use them,” she said.
Dr. Englander said parents should restrict children under 13 from using social media, and should consider restricting it at an older age if children have behavioral issues like fighting and bullying.