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Gunn Confessions online page serves as outlet for student struggles

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Gunn Confessions online page serves as outlet for student struggles

Grace Williams, Changing the Narrative Editor

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The Gunn Confessions Facebook page became the latest sensation to hit the Gunn community last month, prompting not only widespread attention but also controversy. With 808 followers, 643 likes, and 4,491 confessions (and counting), the page has ignited discussion over the benefits and drawbacks of such social media usage. The page’s administrators collect anonymous “confessions”—which consist of secrets, questions and unpopular opinions—and post these confessions on the page for all to see.

Because the page could easily become a toxic forum for students to hurt others without consequence, potentially hurtful posts are filtered out. “Inevitably, posts slip through sometimes, and when that happens we do our best to remove them as soon as someone messages the page about it or if mean comments start to appear,” one of the page’s anonymous administrators said. The list of banned content on the Google Form for submitting confessions includes hate speech, cyberbullying and negative accusations.

Though the page was created for Gunn students and serves as an outlet for students to share their struggles, parents and administrators, including Principal Kathleen Laurence, have also noticed the page and expressed concerns about the consequences of the page. “I want to support students but the confessions are anonymous so we can’t help [those students] and that is what I am most concerned about,” Laurence said.

Similarly, Gunn parent Stacey Ashlund stated her apprehension over students’ mental health upon discover- ing the confessions page. “The stigma of mental health cannot be fixed overnight but students are hopefully seeking help when coming across certain posts,” she said. Ashlund also hopes there is an area of the Facebook page that lists mental health resources available to students when necessary; this list is now pinned at the top of the page, including the Crisis Text Line and the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Some, however, have had negative experiences with the page. For example, problems arose for chemistry teacher Casey O’Connell when misleading claims were given a platform to be published. “[A post] said I had psychoanalyzed [a student] by diagnosing them with depression and saying that is why they did not complete their homework,” O’Connell said. According to O’Connell, the confession was inaccurate. O’Connell messaged the Facebook page saying, “I never psychoanalyzed a student because I am not a legal psychiatrist and [am] unable to make that diagnosis.” O’Connell requested the post be taken down, and the page administrators obliged.

Despite this incident, O’Connell believes the page could be beneficial to the Gunn community. “I think a well-moderated anonymous group like Gunn Confessions should exist at every high school,” O’Connell said.

Assistant Principal Harvey Newland echoed O’Connell’s thoughts. “If [the page] stays lighthearted, it is okay,” he said.

Some of the posts discuss heavier topics such as mental health or sexual assault, and students have rallied around these submissions and offered positive and uplifting messages in the comment section of these posts.

As of now, no student has come forward to Gunn administrators stating they have a problem with the Face- book page. In addition, the Gunn Confessions Facebook page administrators have no intention of taking down the group.

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Gunn Confessions online page serves as outlet for student struggles