I’m not sure there are words to adequately express the true problem that this article illuminates: Douglas County Students Disciplined Over Facebook Post.
It is naturally disturbing that these students, in 2011, are not aware of social networking perils, the global wallop of the internet’s speed and comprehensibility, as well as aspects of damage to reputations. That, plus legal liabilities involving defamation.
But in a more basic and general sense – what of simple honesty, decency, and good character – how do 12-year-olds today think it is ok to label a teacher a pedophile; a rapist; as bipolar?
Or perhaps a better question is: What allows them to unthinkingly do this? Answer: The “realm of risk” allows them this latitude. In the realm of risk, unmanaged possibilities become probabilities. We can see how universal this important BTW warning is – and how wide its applicability: No one set proper expectations and limits on these kids’ online posts.
Kids say mean things; cruel things; stupid things. I did when I was young, and likely you did too. Today’s kids will do those things in the internet age’s equivalent of our neon lights – unless someone tells them not to, and spells out the consequences.
What of school policy? The modern requirements for school policy mandate a section concerning defamation of teachers, administrators, etc., regardless of forum; whether occurring on school grounds with school resources, or elsewhere. Today’s electronic enablements make this a no-brainer.
What of elementary education? It has to include coverage of internet communications and general use. If schools are in the business of teaching children the difference between “bad touches” and “good touches,” there sure is an appropriate need to be filled regarding electronic communication in 2011 – particularly given the parents’ reactions in the included article.
That is the most dismaying thing. Kids do not possess wisdom and experience – caring parents and educators help that along. But in this case, the parents are devoid of wisdom and experience – actually defending their kids within the most egregious defamations possible.
Go check your kids. They’re kids.
On this day: In 1959, Groucho, Chico and Harpo Marx make their final TV appearance together.