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Teen arrested for playing The Walking Dead: Our World at school and posting video to Facebook

By Cal Jeffrey · 24 replies
Aug 27, 2018
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  1. Sean Small, a senior at Scottsburg High School in Indiana, was arrested last week after posting a video to his Facebook account of him playing The Walking Dead: Our World. Using the phone’s camera the AR game pits the player against zombies superimposed into the real world.

    Small compared it to Pokemon GO saying in his post, “Finally something better than Pokemon GO.”

    We’ve reported several times on the dangers and pitfalls of playing Pokemon GO when it was the latest craze. So you can only imagine the havoc that Small must have caused. In reality, his only crime was playing the game at school.

    He made the mistake of posting a video clip of the gameplay to his Facebook page, which shows him in the hall of the school shooting virtual zombies. According to local news station WDRB, one of his Facebook friends saw the post and reported him to the school’s resource officer and principal.

    “They said he had created (computer-generated imagery) of students and was shooting students in the school hallway."

    Not only did the principal initiate expulsion proceedings, but he also called the police and had Small arrested at school. Police searched his person and belongings and found no weapons or other illegal items. He was nonetheless charged with “intimidation,” a misdemeanor, to which he pleaded not guilty and has been released on $1,000 bail.

    Small who is active in school sports and is a member of the Indiana National Guard said he “meant no harm.” He said he was just posting the clip to Facebook after the app prompted him to share his victory.

    The teen’s father, Kris Small said that the incident is being completely “overblown” by school officials who have scheduled an expulsion hearing for next week.

    “They made it sound like he had posted this awful video,” he told reporters. “They said he had created (computer-generated imagery) of students and was shooting students in the school hallway, and it wasn’t until I had a chance to actually look at it and I saw the logo in the corner and listened to it and heard the zombie sounds that I realized what it really was.”

    Small’s trial is set for October 23, with a pretrial conference scheduled for September 27.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,067   +1,190

    Somewhere in this process there should have been an opportunity to talk things over.
    "What's the charge, officer?"
    "Playing a game in the school hallway."
  3. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,124   +1,617

    In this era of school shootings, authorities are damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

    If this kid had posted this as a warning and then ended up shooting up his school afterward, families and locals would have been out-of-their mind angry at the authorities for not following up with him after the Facebook post.

    In the end, it's just a really dumb move by the kid who should know better.
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,396   +5,020

    The dumb move is charging him for playing a video game period.
    Kibaruk, Poliel, TempleOrion and 13 others like this.
  5. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 679   +495

    No weapons were found, he's in school sports, no previous record of violence nor any signs of him being unstable. The school majorly overreacted to a simple case of a student playing a game. There's literally no difference if he played this violent game at home or in the halls at school. If it was going to "make him violent" it would anyways, right?!

    EDIT: He also was wearing a Fortnite shirt in the video so he obviously just likes video games.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  6. mcborge

    mcborge TS Guru Posts: 576   +467

    Wow, that escalated stupidly.
  7. Richard M

    Richard M TS Member

    It is not an all or nothing thing. There is a reasonable response somewhere between do nothing and destroying the kids life.

    Taking some time to make sure he is not fixing to go postal, explaining how bad it looks, talking to his parents, and maybe even giving him a few days suspension for the bad judgement would be a reasonable response that would check all the boxes.

    However expelling him from school in his senior year, having him arrested, trying to have him put in jail is so far from any kind of reasonable response I can not even think of a good word to describe it.
  8. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,769   +428

    Fault lies on both sides in this case, which is why I chose the "Where has the common sense gone in our society" tag line.

    As TomSEA says, "the kid should have known better."

    Indeed, it was not a brilliant idea to post the video to Facebook. Of course hindsight is always 20/20. Plus the app prompted him to share the win. I haven't played the game, but I have played plenty mobile games that do this and suspect that he might not have even known it was posting video. Regardless, had he n to posted to Facebook this whole thing would never have happened.

    On the other side, the school waaaaaay over reacted.

    Like Cycloid Torus points out, where was the conversion over the matter? An otherwise good student with no criminal history, planning to enter the military after graduation, gets searched with no contraband being found, but is still charged and arrested on a bulls*** intimidation charge? Who exactly was he intimidating? All they had to do was read his comment on the post, "Finally something better than Pokemon GO." He clearly was not trying to intimidate anybody. Furthermore, authorities prematurely jumped to conclusion stating that he "created" the video and that it was of him shooting other students. They obviously didn't even look that closely at the video before making that hasty decision.

    If they wanted to suspend him for playing games at school, fine, but expulsion and arrest? Really?

    EDIT: My opinion on this would have been entirely different if instead of mentioning Pokemon in his post he would have said something like, "This is me shooting up my school," or "This is what I want to do in RL." That would have changed the whole tone and I would have been less critical of the school in that case, but this is far far removed from what actually happened and what was posted.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
    Kibaruk, Stark, TempleOrion and 4 others like this.
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,993   +2,292

    @Cal Jeffrey Please keep us posted.

    I fall in the both the school and the boy lack common sense category.

    However, I also fall into the get out of the cellphone and go hiking category, too. Seems to me too many people live their lives vicariously through their smart phones.
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  10. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,550   +1,767

    That family is going to get quite the payday from that school system from the inevitable lawsuit. Overreactions like this tend to go over very poorly.

    The school was insanely over-reacting here. This was a great example of someone young doing something without thinking, and the punishment is completely unjustified. All they have accomplished is teaching this kid, and possibly those around him, that schools are full of hypersensitive manchildren, and only continue to fuel the dislike of schools by the general public.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,720   +808

    Certainly not an appropriate thing or sensitive to the disturbing nature of "school shootings" to post on FB. With that said though the arrest is illegal and a violation of the kids rights as far as I'm concerned. The most appropriate thing the school could have done was held him in the admin offices, called the parents, temporary suspension, at most recommend he be evaluated to make sure he doesn't want to hurt himself or someone else. But yeah, major overreaction by the school.

    I'm surprised the officer even arrested the kid. He didn't commit crime. Intimidation isn't a crime unless he was using a weapon, which he wasn't.
  12. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,543   +918

    Kid playing the game did nothing wrong.
  13. gamoniac

    gamoniac TS Evangelist Posts: 358   +102

    I recall some 20 years ago when somewhat realistic first person shoot-them-up games were introduced, politicians went a bit nuts about the violence of the game, ie, sniping, etc. it was appalling for most of us at that time, but it is definitely much more accepted by the society as a whole nowadays.
    TempleOrion and erickmendes like this.
  14. bandit8623

    bandit8623 TS Addict Posts: 153   +58

    What did they charge the kid with? playing with his fingers in public?
    TempleOrion and isamuelson like this.
  15. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,396   +5,020

    Looks to me they charged him with "living his life, not hurting anyone".
  16. McMurdeR

    McMurdeR TS Addict Posts: 144   +115

    Sounds like a society crippled by fear and unable to articulate common sense, bungling from one overreaction to the next.

    There'll be thousands of kids playing that game at school by next week.

    The fact that a kid posted a video of a violent AR game at school is far less troubling than the fact that the authorities seem unable to deal with it in a measured way.
  17. isamuelson

    isamuelson TS Booster Posts: 117   +17

    It's a VR game. He wasn't shooting students, real or make believe. The game allows you to augment your real surroundings into the game as you take down zombies. There was no threat what-so-ever. It wasn't even during class. It was in the hallway between classes, so it wasn't as if he wasn't paying attention in school.

    I understand about today with the school shootings, so yes, in hindsight it might have been a better move NOT to post it, but still, the school and the student who reported him overreacted in this case. He didn't say he was shooting up students, etc. There was no threat to the school or the staff or the students. he was posting his victory as per the app. What if he posted it without it being augmented (in other words, using the in-game background)? Would he have been arrested then and suspended? The arrest is WAY over the top in this case because he committed NO crime. Are we now in the age of Minority Report where if they THINK you are going to commit a crime, you're automatically arrested and found guilty of your supposed thinking of a crime?
  18. kcwilsonii

    kcwilsonii TS Rookie

    So in essence he was saving the students from the zombies attacking the school. Wonder if the head of the school have ever heard Jonathan Coulton's "RE: Your Brains". Sounds like the kid is at least a big picture kind of guy.
    Cal Jeffrey and TempleOrion like this.
  19. Mighty Duck

    Mighty Duck TS Addict Posts: 151   +81

    Meanwhile, people who are a real harm to others walk around freely with their real guns.
    TempleOrion and mcborge like this.
  20. kcwilsonii

    kcwilsonii TS Rookie

    You have a great point there
    Stark and TempleOrion like this.
  21. Abraka

    Abraka TS Addict Posts: 176   +54

    This kind of games makes unadjusted kids to eventually shoot someone for real. Because they have done it so many times virtually that it doesn't look too far to do it for real. It conditions even normal people and let alone those who have a bit "buggy" minds. But then one of the top game producers will order a research made by "real scientists" that will show "evidence" that games don't influence minds of the kids (or adults).

    Now, the question is, if that's really true then why we don't see some racist games oriented towards Jews for example. Why would that kind of plot be banned if it doesn't influence anyobody's mind?
  22. Aux101

    Aux101 TS Enthusiast Posts: 43   +6

    Lack of jugement is the norm now :/
  23. lazer

    lazer TS Addict Posts: 237   +57

    So the kid is stupid, does the administration also have to be stupid?

    why arrest him?

    suspend him from school, maybe....
  24. Guerra

    Guerra TS Rookie

    What would the grounds for suspension be? The use of cellphones is not forbidden in school grounds. This is a case of ignorance leading to unfounded accusations, period.
  25. TechLove

    TechLove TS Rookie

    I find it interesting that so many people are jumping on the “this is stupid “ or “the school is wrong” just because you read a one sided story where the kids father says the school is wrong. The talking heads on the news stations and the sensationalist that are all writing the same story and just making it worse for this kid because his father lacks better judgment. The fact is schools are bound by privacy laws so we don’t really know what other evidence they have.
    Last I checked schools don’t tell the police who to arrest or tell the prosecutor who to charge with a crime.

    Dylan Klebold’s mom said...“I think we like to believe that our love and our understanding is protective, and that ‘if anything were wrong with my kids, I would know,’ but I didn’t know, and I wasn’t able to stop him from hurting other people. I wasn’t able to stop his hurting himself and it’s very hard to live with that.”

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