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Police Investigate Pennsylvania Boy Over 'Death Note'

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5th-grader allegedly listed 5-6 other students in note found in his school

Police are investigating a fifth-grade boy who allegedly posted a "death note" in his elementary school near Pittsburgh this past week. Burrell School District superintendent Shannon Wagner said that the note with the names of five or six other boys was found on a wall in Stewart Elementary School in Lower Burrell. Wagner added, "After conducting the investigation, we found it is based on the anime, Death Note."

The school and the Lower Burrell Police Department notified the families of the students listed in the note, and the school also sent a letter to parents on Friday. The school has suspended the boy, and the police and prosecutors will discuss whether to press charges by Monday.

In the Death Note suspense manga, live-action films, and anime adaptation, a teenager finds a notebook with which he can put people to death by writing their names and the dictated manners of death.

There have been at least seven previous incidents in the United States where school officials linked "Death Notes" to students being disciplined. A high school senior in Richmond, Virginia was suspended in 2007 over a list of his classmates that the school principal linked to Death Note. A middle school student in Hartsville, South Carolina was "removed" from school over a "Death Note" notebook in March of 2008. In Gadsden, Alabama, two sixth-grade students were arrested in the following month for a notebook that allegedly listed their school staff and fellow students in a manner similar to the Death Note anime.

A middle school in Gig Harbor, Washington expelled one student and disciplined three others in May of 2008 for writing 50 names in their own "Death Note" book. Two elementary school students from Oklahoma City were to be disciplined in December 2009 for allegedly listing two other students and the manners of their fictional deaths in a "Death Note" notebook. An eighth-grade student was suspended indefinitely from a middle school in Owosso, Michigan after a "Death Note" notebook was found in March 2010. A 14-year-old eighth-grade student from Pennsylvania's Avonworth Middle School was suspended after a "Death Note" list was found on a school bus in May 2010.

On the other hand, a Washington state librarians' group nominated the manga for a young adults' book award in 2007. The manga's Taiwanese publisher and a non-profit Taiwanese watchdog group supported the work in 2007 for raising issues. A mother in New Mexico called for a ban on the manga in Albuquerque Public Schools in 2010, but a committee voted unanimously against the ban.

Sources: WPXI, CBS Pittsburgh

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