Robert Winner

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Should students be punished by their schools for comments made on social medial from their homes.

In the news are students being expelled for comments made from home regarding their schools, administrators, or teachers. Should this be a matter for courts action ... no action ... or is the school discipline justified.

Remember the comments are not made on school equipment or while the student is under school control / school hours / school trips / etc ...

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    May 6 2012: It's playground gossip. Schools that react to it need to check themselves.

    For some reason, people think the written word carries more weight or importance than the spoken word. By reacting to gossip, schools give weight to it.

    I don't think social network sites are as substantial as people think. Granted, a lot of people use them but that doesn't imply that the content being shared is worthy of any attention.
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      May 6 2012: Indeed, people seem to give social media more credit then it deserves. It's just people talking, the same as what we used to do on the streets.
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      May 6 2012: I think when words are written, they seem to be set into stone and "the universe will never feel the same". I think this notion of written words carry a bigger weight is legitimate, and nobody likes to have more than the target audience to see their "shame" or errors. That is why we should all learn get past that notion of shame correlating with error. We need to teach the next generation that it is okay to be imperfect and make mistakes because that is where the learning process comes from.

      Gossip can be hurtful too, but that is why we should teach others to not gossip by changing the media, school systems, and parenting. We are all prime examples of the helpful and the hurtful. Striving for harmony and unity is key for a better more flourishing world.
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      May 6 2012: The reason people think that written words carry more weight than spoken words is because that difference is enshrined in law. It's not the words that are different, it's the verifiable nature of the medium of writing in contrast to the ephemeral nature of sound waves dissipating in air.
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        May 6 2012: Fancy words Mr. Hui, but I do agree. That was poetically written. =)
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      May 7 2012: Scott you are looking at this through the eyes of an adult. I can assure you that your average 15 yearold puts more faith in the information they read on facebook than they do in an encyclopedia.
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        May 7 2012: I'm sure they do but I mean that we all put more stock in written language than spoken.

        In my opinion, the written word is on the way out (at least, as we have known it).

        Once the hoo-ha over social networks settles down, we might see context becoming as important to the message as the content of the message itself.
  • May 7 2012: I would like to submit a common, simple yet crude example. A student sitting on his bed doing homework instead of playing outside writes a note "Mr. Jones suck big green donkey peckers" then adds "City High School is the worst in the world". The student adds drawings to illustrate his point. He throws it in his backpack and heads over to his friends house. His friends finds it humorous and shows it to another friend. Eventually the paper gets caught in the wind and into a citizens hand who reports it to the school. The analogies to this instance and Facebook are simple. In my opinion the schools have no recourse nor responsibility to punish the students. The instructor's may unofficially express his disappointment to the student as one human being to another. Public schools are not charged with raising, disciplining or parenting our children.
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      May 7 2012: The only problem I see with the analogy is that in your example a private comunication became public by accident. You don't often post something on facebook accidentally. I think part of the problem lies in the fact that kids don't appreciate that a facebook post is in the public domain unless you specifically block access to it.
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      May 11 2012: Good job that is a perfect analogy.
  • May 9 2012: Schools shontnt do that cause thats freedom of expression students should complain about the issue
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    May 8 2012: You are free to the limit not to damage the right of others. Cannot just wrongly accuse someone, seriously hurt them and then easily get away without any notice. I say it's unfair.

    But being expelled from school? I hope there's better solution.
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      May 9 2012: The solution is the school keep it's nose to it's self and let the legal system deal with it. I believe there should be punishment for cyber bullying but the school is a school not a court of law anything said or done of school property and time is none of their business. The courts needs to set the punishments and regulations. Your school board has no right.
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    May 8 2012: read --> Philippines: Students Prevented from Graduating Over Facebook Bikini Photos (http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/04/03/philippines-students-prevented-from-graduating-over-facebook-bikini-photos/)

    here in my country where more than 80% are Catholics and sectarian schools run by nuns, priests, etc are fairly common, it is difficult to draw the line. sure they can withhold the diploma, but at the end of the day the school in this case clearly showed its narrow-mindedness and oppressive nature. it has no jurisdiction with the private lives of students, and those students are better off enrolling in government schools instead.
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      May 9 2012: This is why the schools should never have any rights on children of school property and time. Cyber bullying should be handled in court or you will see things like you just pointed out.
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    May 7 2012: I often find cultural differences surprising in TED discussions, and I beleive I can identify one here. In Australia I believe we value the right to a free, quality education above freedom of speech. I also feel we have much higher expectations of the impact of educators on our children. A large part of the function of a highschool is to teach the kids the difference between how children behave and how adults behave. To a large extent much of the discipline in a school, is the school performing functions that would be performed by the courts if you are an adult. It teaches the students about legal interactions in a situation where the worst possible outcome is you have to go to the school down the road. I now expect David to say he only wants the school to teach and we should let him "raise" his children. In an Ideal world all parents would be like that, but in my 13 years of teaching highschool science at a school that I won't name I find parents like that to be the minority. I would also offer that the child that is bullying or behaving inappropriately almost always lacks parental involvment in their life and to a large extent the school has to "parent".
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    Josh S

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    May 7 2012: Peter, David, and Edmond,
    I enjoyed reading all of your comments and debates and i think i have obtained a good idea of the subject.

    I'd like to kind of mediate it, if i may, unbiased.

    It seems simple to me that the school does have a right to defend itself against libel, this has already been proven in courts. HOWEVER, i believe the question of the debate revolves around student to student comments, not student to school. I have yet to hear of a student getting in trouble for commenting on the school but you always hear about Facebook arguments between students, so lets focus on that.

    As one of you said, i forget who sorry, if the comment affects school it should be dealt with in school. Ill give two examples to display the difference:
    1. A student ( Joe) says another student (Bob) is stupid, and uses colorful language to describe him negatively.
    The next day, Bob punches Joe and they get into a fight. Who is to blame? Obviously Joe, so when the school administrators are sorting out what happened they would take into consideration that Joe in fact started the argument, though Bob made it physical. In this situation, Joe isn't being punished for what he said on Facebook, but for what he started at school.
    2. Joe says Bob is stupid , along with colorful language. The fight continues on Facebook, but does not show in school, other then a cold shoulder and maybe some mean glares. The school will not punish either one.

    Both examples i gave have and happen all the time in school, as i myself am in High School. Schools do not necessarily punish students for what goes on outside of school, only if it occurs in school.

    The question also refers to comments made on administrators, and the school itself. I have yet to hear of this, but regardless, Libel and slander are not protected under the 1st amendment-clear and simple, regardless of situation. If it is true or is opinion, it is permitable. but if it is libel or slander, they can be punished.

    Hope this helps
    • May 9 2012: "Obviously, Joe" is to blame..... wow! So it is ok to punch someone who says something negative about you in your world? That is not right or correct. Not to mention against the law. So no I would rather you not mediate. The discussion hinges around the idea whether a school is within it's rights to take action against a student who posted something obviously objectionable on Facebook. I say it is not within the school's rights to do this; schools should monitor the school not Facebook. I am going to say this again; we should be teaching our kids that words can only hurt them if they let them hurt them. Words only have power over us if we give them power over us.....did no one else here learn this lesson as a child?
  • May 7 2012: In my opinion, since most schools are publicly funded by taxpayers, similar to the government, children should be allowed to say what they want about whatever they wish because they are protected by their first amendment right. Voters can say what they would about the government on any social media site, so why would a particular department be excluded from the same criticism by those who benefit from it existence? I've recently been through the public school system and the children usually have an accurate opinion of many of the things wrong with the school. An option to appease this "problem" may be to offer end-of-year critiques for the school year. This way the administrators and staff will know what the students think of their school.
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      May 7 2012: The first ammendment doesn't protect you if you are commiting libel
      • May 7 2012: If the students are committing libel then the school has the recourse to sue like anyone else. They should not be using their authority over students to supersede the laws already in place; that is oppression.
      • May 7 2012: I agree, I don't think the school should take the law into their own hands. There is law enforcement in place as well as a legal system. If schools feel the need to sue, they have the option, however, there are far bigger problems in schools and they should be more focused on those rather than trying to punish students for what they say.
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          May 7 2012: Its not punishing them for what they say it is trying to stop the inevitable disruption for the rest of the students. The students have a right to an education. Teachers must do what is fair for the majority.
      • May 7 2012: I understand that, however, students shouldn't be limited or punished for something they post on Facebook. Disruptions in the classroom stem far beyond social media sites and justifying a students expulsion because it's fair for the majority is subjective. Political news, pop culture, and sports are all influential and possible "distractions" and furthermore could be considered "disruptive" if students allow it to manifest as such, but as a school and a teacher you should find ways to work around it. With all do respect, just because it makes your job easier to expel a student, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do or what's best for the majority. That student is not benefiting from being expeled and losing their right to an education.
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          May 7 2012: So its ok with you for your child to fail a subject because of the disruptive behavior of other students in his class?
      • May 8 2012: It's highly unlikely that my child would fail a subject solely because other students are disruptive, there is a lot more that goes into being unsuccessful in the classroom especially within our education system.
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          May 8 2012: I am currently sitting in a room with 20 highschool teachers who all disagree with you.
      • May 8 2012: Well, I can only speak from my experience and what I observed from students in my graduating class. They would all share the same sentiment that distractions are everywhere, however, it is up to you to determine whether or not that will affect your success in the classroom. To fail, one would have to completely disengage in all activity and stop attending class. In my school there were plenty of "disruptive" students, but that never stopped me or my other peers from getting our work done. As a student you take responsibility for your own education and if you want to be successful another student's action will not keep you from that success.
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    May 6 2012: It is just an opinion of another person that makes comments online and for others to be able to see you "public" profile, then it just doesn't seem fair to take action on such a condition. I guess if you examine it from another point of view, you can say that the school staff being targeted may lose their reputation, but I am sure students already talk about the issue in person already. They should either not take notice or care to even look at that stuff because if you are part of the faculty and you're doing your job correctly, at your best, then no need to feel self-conscious about what others opinions may be. So, my answer is No, no one should get punished for comments on the social network. There is also the premises of "freedom of speech". Ridiculous how schools think they could mandate someone outside of school grounds to act a certain way....
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      May 7 2012: Freedom of speach doesn't apply if you are breaking the law by publishing your statement! (look up libel)
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        May 7 2012: Wow, that sucks, then there may be a need for a new social movement to make some amendments.
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    May 5 2012: I am actually in school and I believe this issue is one that is highly debated but also, in my opinion, very clear cut. The fact is, these people who have been getting in trouble by using social media are abusing it by insulting others, and thus distracting them from their primary goal, education.

    If people are using social media to hurt others or bully them in any way, then I believe there should be severe consequences, especially if those social media comments affect behavior of students durring school (Which they normally do).
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    May 11 2012: Chris you didn't did far enough I also write historical pieces for a Russian site so you can say or do all you want. Listen most of us are into TED because we want to make a difference in the world. What little time I have left I spend it cleaning up the parks and the waterways where I live.

    I have chosen to raise my children because I see articles about police and their dogs being used to keep a school walkout from happening. That is overkill if I ever heard of it.

    You see I am becoming a Ukrainian Citizen because it is very peaceful here and I love the people. My mom is a mixture of Polish,Russian,British,and German so that might be why I like it here. Or is it the fact they don't have TSA at check points allowed to do what they want.

    I am very worried about children and adults alike at this point and time. Our world is at a very strange state indeed and we need to be careful in who has power over our lives.
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    May 11 2012: Simple answer; no.

    This issue is complex at best. Social media is invaluable, for businesses and for people. There is a fine line, in this new digital world, between protecting a institution from, say, a threat of violence and being 'big brother'. The line isn't drawn in the sand clearly enough, and this issue will only get more convoluted over time.

    In my opinion, institutions that use social media to issue out punishments based on what has been said on various social media outlets are doing harm to themselves and the people they're stalking. And it is stalking. It's the same as a person looking through a persons' Facebook page and gather information for their own ends.

    If I posted that I hated my government, then I should not be persecuted for it by my school. However, if I threatened to blow something up, I should be stopped.

    Therein lies the conflict. A person has the right to privacy, but the state works to protect the public.
  • May 11 2012: "We need to show some self respect and learn how to show respec to others and respect for the institutions we represent. Then we need to instill this respect in our children"

    They're not going to get that respect by institutions overreaching legitimate bounds to their authority, which schools are doing by monitoring social media for students being disrespectful on Facebook or Twitter. As a parent, I would never consider my children's social discourse outside of school to be the school's concern, regardless of how disrespectful (vs threatening) they are being to teachers or administrators. My point isn't that schools shouldn't be required to monitor student behavior outside of school; it's that they should not be *allowed* to. Similarly, for employers: with very rare exceptions, employers should not be allowed to monitor employee behavior outside of the workplace.

    People aren't being sanctioned for not having a modicum of respect for themselves or others; they're being sanctioned for not expressing sufficient respect for specific authority figures.
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    May 10 2012: Back to the question of Robert Winner (top of the page): Should students be punished by their schools for comments made on social medial from their homes.

    The assumption is that the comments are both untrue and damaging, otherwise there's no point arguing this! Let's make a simple example: a student calls a teacher is a whore!

    The school can: (1) let it go without notice, (2) sue that student to the court, (3) do something else, e.g. call that student up and make sure he/she understands why it's the wrong thing to do.

    Both (1) and (2) are hardly an educated act; they are both in extreme side. I say we got to do something else.
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      May 14 2012: Mr Chung, You and I are of a shared different time. I agree that the school has options. Years ago the teacher, a local resident as was the principal and superintendent who knew the parents and maybe even taught them. There was parental involvement, respect, and interaction on personal and professional levels. The teachers and students were real people who went to the same churches, shopped the same stores, went to the same movies, etc .... Today we have a teacher who drives 40 miles a day to work, a student who is #32 on the roster, a principal and superintendent who are scared to death of the next law suit by parents who are sue happy. Teachers (here) sign a contract for 863 hours a year not a minute more. They make (here) $40,000 plus. Thats about $46.35 per hour and gripe about it. The rest of us work 2060 hours a year for the same $40,000 (that is about $19.42 per hour). I have checked the facts and the amounts are accurate.

      Bottom line is that the respect we once had no longer exists from either the teacher or the student. (general statement). Each has good and bad. We have teachers having sex with students and students who punch teachers out or bring guns to school plus we have police stationed at the schools.

      The current structure of education may not allow us to ever return. Many have elected to enroll in private or charter schools where disclipine is more prevelant. Thanks for responding.

      By the way what if the comments were true? All the best. Bob.
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        May 14 2012: I've said it before and I'll say it again, if teachers have it so good why don't you become one?
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          May 14 2012: Mr Lindsay, Sir if you are so unhappy change professions. I have taught and am currently coaching three sports as a retired person. Bob
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        May 14 2012: I've considered quiting many times but the thing that sucks me back in, is teaching gives you a sense that you are actually doing something worthwhile. Some of the time anyway.
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          May 15 2012: I understand. I relate teaching to golf. My game sucks for 17 holes and then I hit unbelievable shots that give me hope of being a good golfer just as I was about to throw the clubs in the water. In my sports I see so much natural talent and work hard to see it developed and the kid does what he wants and never develops ..... then come along the average kid who listens and develops and you feel vindicated and jump in again. We see kids who are naturals in the classroom and never work at getting A's and B's. Then from the middle of the pack come a academic superstar who works hard and thursts for knowledge and recharges our batteries. To be open and honest my problem was not kids or parents so much as it was the staff and administration that cause my frusteration. Does any of this hit a note with you? Bob.
  • May 10 2012: I'm starting in teaching, and I find the increasing tendency of schools to consider school rules to apply everywhere to be troublesome (employers are doing this, too). I believe it is immoral for schools (and employers) to consider that their authority extends beyond the school (work) day and official functions.

    It's only because the students can complain on Facebook and other social media that are accessible to teachers and administrators that this is an issue: they can't monitor students' phone calls or mail or in-person socialization in the mall, so they can't punish kids for this.

    In other words, administrators should back off. This 24/7 power they seem to desire is probably one of the reasons schools are failing.
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      May 19 2012: Ed, you are probally right that administrators to overly involved. But in their defense, the world is sue crazy. There is some lawyer out there will to take your money for anything and every thing. The administrator gets involved in an effort to control the situation. S/he is in a no win situation. To have knowledge requires action. The superintendent has to fend off angry parents, the media, and the school board. The principal does not have any protection and is the target of lawsuits, etc .... There are many reason for schools failing and perhaps this is one of them. However, you chose to become a teacher and the question become are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Work for change within the rules and boundries. I know that it will be a long jurney ... but it begins with the first step. All thye best. Bob
      • May 19 2012: I am not -- nor do I intend to become -- and administrator. In the public schools where I've substitute taught, they are quite busy enough with behaviors within the school (expanded to include school events, school buses, and the bus stops when the bus is still nearby) to browse Facebook or Twitter for disparaging comments. I would be somewhat surprised if any of them would be scanning Facebook or Twitter merely for disparaging comments, even if a student told them they were being posted. In other words, a student's posting of something "X is a slut" or "the vice principal is a ****" would be considered nothing more than random noise. Posted threats may be vetted, but would probably be handed over to law enforcement.

        More troubling is the case of Phoebe Prince, who was bullied to suicide, but there the school administration did not effectively act even after they were informed the bullying was occurring on campus. I suspect that part of the reason was that some of the students were popular athletes or their hangers-on, students who, not infrequently, are not disciplined for various infractions because they're "important" to the school. That, I have seen, and have been on the wrong side of.

        Edited to add: apparently that was part of the reason. See http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/01/24/the_untouchable_mean_girls/
  • May 10 2012: Students these days find it easy to lash out at their teachers or other fellow peers through social networking sites .They vent out their frustration .This is not a healthy activity and should be nipped in the bud .Having said that ,i dont think expulsion or even suspension is necessary .The school should also understand that ,students are bound to give ,share feedback about them .Obviously they wouldn't do it in front of them, would they ?
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    May 10 2012: One more reason they should not have the power I know personally from one of the schools I had one bully push me from behind and another slam open a locker in my face knocking out a tooth and the principle and board did nothing because the two boy's parents were part of the school board.

    And cyber bullying is not the only thing we are talking about we are talking about photos and them talking about their lives on the internet. If a student has a grudge on another and has friends withing in the school system or more likely mom or dad does they could target a child and punish them for something that was not really a problem.

    Maybe someone could get suspended during prom time to make it so the could not be a contestant or other such activities. maybe someone could be close to being valedictorian and the Principals favorite child is in danger of loosing it.

    Because of me living in different places and seeing how some places operate I fully understand why the school needs to have nothing with out side time. It is easy for people whom have not spent anytime in other places to just read the news articles hashed out and draw from that point being clueless of the real world.

    By the way FYI until about 9 years ago most of the media companies were owned by over 50 companies. Now only 6 companies own most or them and they all are heavily invested into energy and political candidates.
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    May 9 2012: Offensive or disrespectful comments about named individuals (other children or staff) should be treated as a form of bullying / harassment and parents should be advised of the situation. However, I do not feel expulsion should be used to tackle this as children are mostly powerless in an adult world and they do tend to lash out verbally (or written) to vent their frustrations. Facebook, and the like, are just the modern means to doing this.

    Young people are mostly blissfully unaware of the devastating impact of their comments - they do not have well developed feelings of empathy. They are, by definition, immature. Perhaps a referral to a school counsellor would help them to understand the reason why they feel angry and to develop ways of dealing with life’s frustrations.
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    May 9 2012: Of course they should, the school role is not only to teach but to educate. Of course the punishment should be chosen with the kid parent and can't be something like suspending.

    The family and the school should take care more about what kids do and not only in the social media website.
  • May 9 2012: in my opinion,students can be punished by school in some way,but they shouldn't at least be suspended.I mean,come on,they are only kids.Nobody should take their fundamental right of getting education away! This will leave a scar on their careers!
  • May 9 2012: Social media is blurring the distinction between public and private lives. People fail to realize that a post to facebook, twitter, etc. is public speech, unless steps are taken to make it private.

    Before we punish students (or teachers, or employees) for public speech, we must teach them the difference, and how to make their speech private.

    In my humble opinion, people do not learn the responsibilities that enable a free society to remain free. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right, but it comes with the responsibility to understand the ramifications of what, when, and to whom we speak. I am a recent college graduate, and I do not recall any mention of how an ill timed public statement caused harm (and even wars), or how a carefully phrased comment 'turneth away anger'.

    People must learn the importance of privacy. Generations of people have had the attitude that 'if I have nothing to hide, I'm not afraid of wiretaps'. This complacency has allowed a steady erosion of privacy that includes that most excellent use of Newspeak, the patriot act.

    Schools, employers, the government, and all of us need to understand that we are living in a time of unprecedented change. It is unreasonable to punish anyone for rules that haven't been made yet.
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    May 9 2012: Freedom of speech is the underlining part of this I believe and no school has the right to decide what a child can or can not do off of school property. The problem his is the God complex is at full swing all over the world. We as people feel so unempowered that we are trying desperately to control people all over. A person on a school board gets a little piece of power and wants to be dictators over the children's lives. Of course if you see something that worries you like a child seems like he might put himself or others at danger sit down and speak to the child. I recall having great teachers in my day that helped shape me. It seems like the whole world is bent on power grabbing and the school has no right to punish kids for off school property and time. You see if it is illegal it is the polices jobs to handle it not the school.
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    May 9 2012: Lets say an employee was doing the same to the employer - what recourse would the employer have? Students need to be held accountable for online comments. School districts should formalize their tech departments to include codes of conduct, rules, etc. It's really a matter of applying common sense, etiquette and decency to the online/virtual world that is now a part of our lives.
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      May 9 2012: That is not the schools job or right it should be handled in court with nothing to do with the school. I agree we need to protect our children from bullies but the school has absolutely no right. That is for a Judge to decide not a school board.
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          May 9 2012: No no and sir you are responsible for your child's safety outside of school. If you cannot handle the situation you file a report with the police and then take it to court. Actually an employer firing you over a public piece is not really legal they usually say you are fired for doing something else. I was a web surfer for a Bain Capital company and they usually used the time clock as the excuse after something is found. I know personally I had to report anyone talking bad about the company or another employee. Listen your child's grades in school are your problem too. The teacher teaches it and then you have to make your child study it. The schools have no rights outside of their property. The principle is not a Judge. He/she may like to power trip and pretend from time to time but they are not qualified to do the job. Trust me a police officer or a meeting in front of a judge will make more of an impression on the youth than the school board. If we allow the schools to have this power kids can get punished for speaking out about things in their lives that the school has a different idea on. I have been a part of several walk out. Schools have no business policing social media.
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          May 9 2012: point made by: Schubert Malbas 50+

          TED Translator
          1 day ago: read --> Philippines: Students Prevented from Graduating Over Facebook Bikini Photos (http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/04/03/philippines-students-prevented-from-graduating-over-facebook-bikini-photos/)

          here in my country where more than 80% are Catholics and sectarian schools run by nuns, priests, etc are fairly common, it is difficult to draw the line. sure they can withhold the diploma, but at the end of the day the school in this case clearly showed its narrow-mindedness and oppressive nature. it has no jurisdiction with the private lives of students, and those students are better off enrolling in government schools instead.

          You can find this post lower I just copied and pasted his because it is vital to why schools shouldn't have this power.
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          May 10 2012: Listen I am one that believes that our Country is loosing what the founding fathers built. The cyber bullying law is one that has a lot in it that it should not. The problem is parents are lazy too busy watching YOUTUBE or Face Book to be real parents.

          That is why in the last four years more laws have been passed than in almost anytime before by a man that his past from his own mouth has changed a few times. He never has a straight story. The new laws are to leash people. Like in Florida the 5 year old put into hand cuffs for talking in class. Do you not believe that is too far?
          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/31/first-graders-handcuffed-_n_943646.html

          One of the things I have learned from teaching abroad is that families seem to be in better shape and you know what is the difference is the people are behind on the cool social media stuff and actually spend time with the children. Bullies are usually bullies because of their home life. The reason the judge should be involved is what if the bully is that way because of mom or Dad maybe he/she needs help.

          Just because something is law does not make it correct or Just. We are talking about the moral high ground. From my experience the school should never have this power because the board could make decisions off of personal relationships. I have been to 5 high schools and seen two that were nightmares due to certain kids families being in tight with the board.

          A child's life outside school has nothing to do with the school. They should have no power if a school official thinks there is a problem not being taken care of they should notify some legal group be it police of Children and Youth.
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          May 10 2012: From going to five different schools I know how parents click with teachers at some schools while at others not so much. At such schools certain groups a protected by any means. If someone is in danger of not becoming the prom queen the principle could use these powers to handicap the competition by suspending them from school or the competition.

          We are not just talking about cyber bullying which is the way you are trying to swing this debate. We are talking being able to pass judgment on our children's social media activities such as photos or blogs. What if Johnny come on TED and talks about how they should be able to bring lunches from home and he feels like the school system is just trying to be a small mafia by forcing the kids into buying their lunches? Should the school be allowed to punish him?

          You do see the bigger picture or are you just to hooked into being correct?

          From person experience I went to one school one student pushed me from behind and the other slammed a locker open in my face and it knocked out my tooth. Nothing happened to them because their parents were to connected with the principle and the school. At the school any fight you were suppose to be suspended from school for 2 days and get four Saturday detentions they got nothing. I had to take several different days out to get my teeth fixed.

          That is why the schools should not have nothing to do with the internet. Is is actually illegal in America for the teachers to have contact with students through the Web. I am actually abroad teaching and my students can legally contact me on any social forum for help with home work. I also do my best to keep in touch with there parents.

          If parents spent more time being parents like they used to there would not be so many problems in the system. I notice in other countries parents are more like the older generation in America and spent time with there kids instead of blaming everyone else.
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          May 10 2012: Actually I am using my android so my errors are due to the auto correct. Point blank parents need to step to the plate and be parents. Sadly suicides are on the rise you should check into the prescriptions these children are on. A lot of the side effects is suicidal thoughts. The school system is to educate and nothing else.

          You are the secretive person. What is wrong you are afraid of people knowing whom you are? By the way I use British Grammar this is a difference and do to travel and using a cell I do not have the time to double check what has been changed. You do realize that British have different spelling right? See you run and check peoples pages to try and through rocks but you hide yourself. As far as noneffective my students have never gotten less than 7 on the IELTS. That is why I have the level of students I do. Big Brother has had that habit through out history until the people knock it down.

          Chris to be honest with you I think three words were missed spelled. And I am not going to through rocks with a person who evidently has something to hide from people by the lack of info on your page. However I would encourage anyone on medication to Google it and see what you are dealing with since her/she I don't know brought it up.

          We need to start taking responsibility for ourselves again and take care of the children.
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          May 11 2012: Chris you are just a useful tool. I teach British English because that is what people want and by my last name you would see my family came out of Scotland and Chris your petty points have no wait simply because anyone who is on the run like me and do not have the time to sit done makes mistakes because I am going actually walking and typing. What ever you are hiding is your problem.

          I feel the schools having the ability to punish students is a complete nightmare because of favoritism that could be held for others. Like I said earlier I have seen it first hand at one on the schools I went to. The same school there was another instance when a new student transferred and the gym teach during wrestling set him up against another student at least twenty pounds heavier for the two weeks we had wrestling in gym. I one group being bullied by another and the principle punishing the victims.

          If I taught children and one was in trouble I would do what ever I could to help. Even the at the park if I see kids getting too ruff with each other I go over and speak to them. You see I am trying to keep unfairness out of the school because I see how it could get twisted.

          These power grabs are just ways for people to feel like they have power. Some people even trolls that go creeping into other peoples pages and track them around the web and hide their own identity need to rip people down. School officials are no different and they build bias relationships with families they grew up with or have gotten to know through time.

          A judge should be used for extreme cases of bullying but would it get that far if the parents kept an eye on their child. This would not happen at all.

          It is a fact that a lot of the medications that is handed out to people makes people feel suicidal. I do take responsibility for myself and my soon to be child that is why I don't hide from people. Ideas like yours is why TSA is groping children at the airports in the States.
  • May 8 2012: One thing to remember, is that children, meaning everyone who is not an adult, should have the exact same rights as adults. If an employer has no right to fire an employee based on their private life, then a school should have no right to deny a student an education. In fact if a student can be shown to be a threat, they still deserve, maybe even more so, every educational opportunity they are able to accept.

    Non-threatening freedom of speech is protected, especially concerning our government and its agencies. Therefore, a student should in fact have more protection under the law than an employee of a private sector business.

    Currently, students are treated like second class citizens. They are learning that the system is unfair. arbitrary, and corrupt. They are being taught to fear authority. Whether this is a good lesson for our screwed up adult world or not is debatable.
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      May 9 2012: Children don't have the same rights under the law. A fifteen year old cannot get married, sign a contract, drink beer, vote, drive a car on the road, join the army etc. The reason they don't have the same rights is that they also don't have the same responsibilities. If you break the law you are tried as a juvenile and are subject to much lesser penalties.
      • May 9 2012: The things you list as rights are not rights, these are privileges we gain upon reaching the age of majority. Not every adult enjoys these privileges. We have no right, explicit or inherent, to do any of the things you list, other than voting, which is denied to felons in some states. Consider marriage, does everyone have a right to marry? No. Depending on where you live, couples can only get married if they are a heterosexual, genetically male and female couple.

        in the context of this conversation students deserve the same inherent right to privacy, the explicit right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, and explicit right of freedom of speech as any other citizen.

        The most glaring example of the way we teach children about fairness and their rights is how we allow them to be beaten by their parents or guardians. Why don't we find it abhorrent that in most states a parent, guardian, or employee of a school system can hit a child, but the same person could be arrested for hitting another human adult or even a dog.

        BTW, juveniles are often tried and sentenced as adults, something with which I strongly disagree, but then I disagree with our entire legal system.
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          May 9 2012: In my mind I see a group of twelve year olds assembled in the town square, all holding AK47s and murmuring something about how their teachers really suck and the police ignoring them because they're just exercising their rights.
          BTW protection from search and seizure only applies if it is the state searching. Your mom can still go through your stuff
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          May 10 2012: Just pointing out that there are several parts of the bill of rights that don't apply to minors
      • May 10 2012: You know precisely what I mean in the context of this discussion. I am pointing out that children deserve the same basic rights as any other human. No, you're acting like a troll.
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          May 10 2012: Perhaps the right to freedom of speach should be reserved to those mature enough to understand the possible ramifications of their words? Like the right to bear arms is reserved to those considered mature enough to use them responsibly.
      • May 10 2012: Then we would all be silent. Goodbye.
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          May 10 2012: .....
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          May 11 2012: Why are so many people saying the Bill of Rights should be reserved? Our forefathers have to be spinning in their graves. I also feel that we are seeing more and more trolls in blogs telling us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights should die. It is like people want us just to give up and be like North Korea. Children have the right of freedom of speech as much as their parents do. The parent needs to teach the child what is wrong and what is right.
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    May 8 2012: No
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    May 7 2012: I've noted that social media seems to present an interesting obstacle to social psychology and human social interaction in that, while human beings normally adopt separate personas in public to those adopted when alone, social media presents us with a situation where we are often "alone in public".

    In other words, while its true that Facebook is essentially a public space, we often post on it thinking that only relavant parties will look at it (our friends and facebook contacts), without regard to the rest. This is essentially different from situations in which (sticking with the pre - determined analogy) a student specifically directs defamatory remarks to teachers in his school intentionally, and places them in a space in which he EXPECTS everyone to see it.

    This debate is made even more difficult by the age of those using social media, are they yet old enough to understand the gravity of thier posts? That the internet is not a magic candyland where people say what they want and no one ever records it for posterity?

    Similarly, does this kind of speech still count as defamatory if posted on Facebook, but with privacy setting configured so that only I and a select few people can see it?

    Perhaps yet another relavent question is: Does expectation factor in at all when determining punishments for things said in an (expectedly) private forum? (After all, you can't punish someone just for not liking you... similarly, you can't punish dissenting voices simply for dissenting)
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    May 7 2012: A social site is public and in public we are going to be held accountable for libelous comments. Stay away from free speech though. It's always a judgement call. Hopefully, school administrators are wise.
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    May 7 2012: I just had a thought. I had the great pleasure of meeting Chris Anderson a couple of weeks ago. He's every bit as warm and friendly as you'd expect from seeing him on this site, from his comments and from the direction he's taken TED. Let's imagine that I'm some sort of malicious idiot and I badmouth him on Facebook and accuse him of actions and attitudes he's never been guilty of. Of course he could sue me, but I think he'd also be well within his rights, responsibilities and expected behaviour to sanction me in the context of my activities with TED- boot me out of my TED membership, ban me from conferences, etc. As a member of this site, and a TEDx organiser, I have some responsibility towards TED and TED has some right to sanctions if I were to bring it into disrepute. At least that's my view. David- what do you think on this?
    Ed
    • May 7 2012: So Edmond you are saying that if you and Chris get into a personal argument and the you subsequently go to Facebook and express your displeasure immaturely about him and TED; Chris not only has the right but should ban you from TED.com? So do you promote the idea that a person who runs a community has the right to shun any person they deem as not being fit to exist in that community? That would certainly inhibit anyone from speaking out against Chris or TED.com; but it certainly doesn't promote open discourse. Does Chris own TED.com? Is TED.com considered a "public" site? I would expect that this media (web) at some point will have to mature and be considered as much of a right as the right to put something into print (book) and publish. Since freedom of speech is fundamentally a right to express oneself, then right to expression has to be universally extended to all people. In other words if you have a website that is open to public comment then my comments are protected by the First amendment. If your website is not open to public comment then you can delete what you want; but you shouldn't be able to have it both ways. Letting censorship exist for any reason (private or government); is a slippery slope.
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        May 7 2012: No, not at all. I didn't mean I get into an argument with Chris. I meant I post something entirely defamatory and for the purpose of this conversation entirely malicious and wrong, without any possibility of confusion.
        .
        I believe Chris does indeed own this, but I'm not sure. For the sake of argument let's say he does.

        Again, it's not censorship- I'm not saying anything about rights to delete comments. I'm talking about Chris's right to take punitive action within his organisation if someone who is associated with it defames it on a third party publication. Surely the courts are not the only place an ethical and responsible organisation can respond to an action by an individual?
        • May 7 2012: So the question is if you go to another website and make defamatory comments, does he have the right to take punitive actions on this website. I would say no. I think Facebook has got this one right, example is their timeline UI. People have posted most hateful things about Facebook's decision to force this on people. People spoke out some quite horribly against it; Facebook did not respond by tearing down these people's posts or banning them. They responded like a good net-izen and made it a choice of whether to use the new UI or not. Now I understand the example is not an individual, but the only difference is pride. By banning someone from your website because they said something heinous on another website is a 5 year old taking their ball and going home! Not to mention it gives what they said creedence. Lets remember "sticks and stones break bones, but words can never hurt me" Unless of course you are an oppressive govt regime. :-)
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        May 7 2012: I think perhaps the site's limit on number of replies is a good thing here- it has the feel of a long and tiresome argument. My final comments are these- sticks and stones may break my bones, but internet defamation can REALLY hurt me (more so a vulnerable child)- just because it's a quote doesn't make it true.
        Your example about Facebook is clearly inappropriate since Facebook's UI is a perfectly legitimate subject for discussion amongst its users, all of whom Facebook has a good financial reason to want to keep. This is not about good netizenship. It's about good citizenship, which is what schools are trying to educate students in.
        I actually agree with you on the example of TED, because it's my poor analogy that brought him into the argument. Chris is unlikely to actually ban such a user, because it's not his job to educate him. Schools do have a responsibility to educate. It would be irresponsible for a school not to respond.
        • May 9 2012: Edmond, I have enjoyed discussing this with you. My last point on this will be here. Schools have the right to administer school. Facebook has the right to administer facebook, The authorities have the right to enforce the law. Parents should raise their children. We should keep it that way it works.
          Words CANNOT hurt you, unless you give the words power over you. We should be teaching our vulnerable children that.
          Words and ideas are only dangerous when they become action. Discussion is good!
    • May 7 2012: Edmond, I think I understand what you're trying to say: Libel and Slander should not only be considered crimes under Law but be punishable by private action. That's kind of fair, and it already happens (though not as fairly as we'd like, otherwise this conversation would be redundant). I think we should highlight some differences in what is acceptable or unacceptable. Consider:

      A high school student says: "Mr. Faccineli is such a jerk, he gives us homework every day. I bet he makes his wife do homework before he gives her his 'gold star'!"

      versus

      "Mr. Faccineli is such a jerk, he gives us homework every day and then tries to feel me and a couple of other students up in the boys locker room".

      Both statements are objectively false, one is conjecture, the other is accusation. I don't think the kid should be punished for the former (though likely, Mr. Faccineli will give everyone an impromptu pop quiz on Monday to spite him); he should be punished for the latter, in appropriate ways. Should that include a temporary ban from Facebook, it's all fine and good.

      Consider: A cashier posts: "God, my McDonald's shift is so boring and my manager is a real tool." versus "God, my McDonald's shift is so boring and my manager makes us kidnap cats and put it in the meat".

      Both statements are objectively false. The former is opinion (which will result in the cashier getting passed over for that secret promotion the manager was going to announce on monday) and the latter is a punishable lie. The cashier should be legitimately punished for the latter, not the former. That's the difference as I see it.
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        May 7 2012: Yes, you're right in that the statements are objectively false, and in both cases you have correctly identified situations where I would agree action absolutely ought to be taken between the parties without resort to the courts. The difference is that McDonald's is not charged either by the state or by the parents to educate the employee, whereas the school certainly is. As I see it, those who argue against punishment by the school do so because the act was committed outside school time and not on school equipment. But the actual damage is done when the comment is read, just as surely as a punch only hurts when it lands. If the punch lands in school, the school has a duty to respond. So if one student defames another, even if the victim reads it at home, if the victim comes to school in an unfit state to study, the school is right to be involved. If on the other hand the two students get into an argument that doesn't spill over into school, then it's probably none of the school's business. Similarly, if a reasonable person feels that Mr Faccineli is going to be affected while he teaches because the student has posted something, again the school has a legitimate right to be involved.
        Perhaps my residence in the UK colours my judgement on this. I don't see the freedom of expression argument at all- I don't see a slippery slope- none of this affects the student's right to post. If a school sought to prevent students from posting on social networking sites from home, BEFORE they had done anything wrong, that would be censorship and that would be wrong of the school. All of us have a responsibility to think before we publish, now in the internet age more than ever.
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    May 7 2012: It is interesting that the two people involved in this discussion with whom I am in the greatest agreement are the two who also regularly attend a school. One as a teacher and the other a student.
  • May 7 2012: I think there is a dangerous trend in American society of entities besides the law using their power and influence to make "law" and enforce their ideals. Schools and business's do not have the right to inspect your public life to verify whether your ideals match up to theirs. They do not have the right to punish or impede you because of something you said on Facebook or in the village pub for that matter. These are witch hunts that we as a people need to stop. Let the law punish wrongful acts and make Schools, corporations and the like pursue citizens in court; if they feel you have done real damage to their institution or business. We cannot allow the precedent to be set that any third party can use their standing to punish other members of scoiety when they have not broken the law.
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      May 7 2012: You need to carefully read your employment contract. It is a standard clause to include (any action that may damage the reputation of the employer) as grounds for dismissal.
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        May 7 2012: Precisely. I get David's point in that the law is available, but the school is more than a place where students just go during the day. It's a community that is charged with education and discipline by the parents who send their children there. If the child posts comments that bring shame to their own family while at school, should parents have a right to punish? If so, schools similarly have a responsibility to respond to behaviour outside school. Many schools have a home- school contract that deals with these matters. In any case it' proper for children to know that the courts should never be the first resort. That just makes lawyers rich. Any student feeling aggrieved by school punishment in such matters also has recourse to the law.
      • May 7 2012: @Peter what employment contract? I do not have a contract. I am tired of hearing this argument about contracts; you can put anything you want in a contract it doesn't make the contract legal. A contract between two parties does not supersede the law. If I make a contract for you to commit murder it doesn't mean you have to do fulfill the contract. If I make a contract that says you cannot say the word "DohDoh Bird" and if you do I am going to dismiss you; does not make the contract legal or preclude your ability to sue. Not to mention Corportions are notorious for putting line items in contracts that would never stand up to the scrutiny of a court of our peers.

        @Edmond lets don't forget the basis of the question, the supposed infraction did not occur while on school grounds. In this case I think the school has every right to notify the parents and then the parents can decide what action to take. A school and more importantly a school administrator does not have the same responsibility to discipline as the parent. Most parents do not want the school disciplining their child at all. I am parent of a high school age student and I don't want the school to discipline my child; call me and I will discipline.
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          May 7 2012: In the first case the contract would not be binding as you can't make a contract that requires someone to break the law. In the second case I assure you that the contract is binding if you sign it. So don't say "you know what" if your boss can hear you.

          Regarding your "call me and I will discipline" does that apply to all situations? If so I better put your number on speed dial.
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    May 7 2012: Just for the record I am a highschool teacher. Mostly we stay out of what happens on facebook but if a student is involved in a situation that has already had impact within the school we are already involved. Also the majority of students name thier school on their profile. I'm sure if you identified yourself as working for a well known fast food outlet and then proceeded to be racist or anti-semitic on your facebook page there would be repercussions. We also suspend students if they are involved in fights or bullying outside the school, if they are wearing their uniform. By wearing the uniform they are involving the school. With regard to comments about staff, I think the school taking action is preferable for the student if the alternative is a libel conviction and the awarding of damages by a court.
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      May 7 2012: Unless you are talking about a private school, there is no substance to the analogy.
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        May 7 2012: Are you saying that a publicly funded school isn't protected by the same laws a privately funded school is? Why should a publicly funded entity be denied the right to protect its reputation?
        • May 7 2012: I think the point Shallow is making is that students don't choose the school they go to unless it's private. They do however choose the job they work at. A school is more than welcome to protect it's reputation, but it shouldn't be able to oppress someone's first amendment rights in the process.
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        May 7 2012: It is a valid point that you don't get to chose the public school you go to but in the same way in Australia the public school doesn't get to chose its students either. We are bound by law to provide education up to the age of 17. You can't get expelled unless legal action outside the school prohibits your attendance and even then an alternative placement must be provided at a nearby school.
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          May 7 2012: Keith explained my point as well as I could have.

          I can't speak on the Australian system, but I can for what I have seen of education in Texas. Just as you say, the schools are bound by law to provide education, but the citizens are also bound by law to fund the school. By way of a third party (parents), the students are paying for a service, a forced payment for a service determined solely by one's address. They have every right to speak out on the service they receive.

          - If slander is the case then that is for the courts to decide, not the schools.
          - If bullying is the case then, while I can understand the school being concerned, the school still has no right to intervene.

          When I was in (public) school, all athletes had to sign a contract in order to play sports. Included was the prohibition of alcohol under all instances, even though it was perfectly legal for a teenager to drink a beer while in the presence of a parent. The athletic director saw fit to force a contract upon athletes which forbid behavior that was 1) legal and 2) taking place outside of school. That was my first experience with a school stepping outside its jurisdiction and unjustly restricting the behavior of students. Regulating what a student says outside of school grounds/hours is even worse.

          And we wonder why students have such a bitter attitude towards school...
    • May 7 2012: I don't think you understand the what freedom of speech means. I can be as anit-semetic as I want to be as long as I am not purporting violence against another group. I have the right in this country to have my opinion and express it and you do not have the right to stop anyone just because you are a High School administrator/teacher. Censorship in any form is bad for a republic based on freedoms of the people. Corporations do not have the right to tell you what to post on Facebook either and if they were to take action against you for it; you have the right to sue.
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        May 7 2012: Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. The freedom is not absolute; the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized several categories of speech that are excluded from the freedom of speech, and it has recognized that governments may enact reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions on speech.

        Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy, such as racism, sexism, and other hate speech are almost always permitted. There are exceptions to these general protections, including the Miller test for obscenity, child pornography laws, speech that incites imminent lawless action, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Within these limited areas, other limitations on free speech balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as rights for authors and inventors over their works and discoveries (copyright and patent), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons (restrictions on fighting words), or the use of untruths to harm others (slander). Distinctions are often made between speech and other acts which may have symbolic significance.

        Please note of the bit about slander. If a school has a choice between discipline within the school or taking legal action that leaves a child with a criminal conviction then I think a two day suspension is preferable.
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          May 7 2012: Peter I think you've expressed it perfectly. I don't think David understands what censorship means. I haven't seen anyone proposing school censorship. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequence. Does an example help? If a student expresses personal racist views, perhaps a school may have nointerest at all. But what if a student states that the staff of a school are racist, or that the school is institutionally racist? Do people really think the school's first line of action is to go to the courts?
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          May 7 2012: "Please note of the bit about slander. If a school has a choice between discipline within the school or taking legal action that leaves a child with a criminal conviction then I think a two day suspension is preferable."

          The school should take the path that is offered to the school; otherwise, the school is making up rules as they go along. Is punishment for an act which has yet to be found unlawful by the courts offered to the schools? If so, please cite. If not, then you are talking about schools playing the role of judge, jury and executioner, with the self-granted power argued by way of "This punishment isn't as bad as the possible alternative."
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    May 6 2012: I don't think students should be punished for such comments. This may raise a question about disciplines amongst students but I suppose not many liked their schools when they were kids.
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    May 6 2012: Well, it depends on the content of the comment. If the student is referring to the school, off course it should make the school take some sort of reaction over this act but when the comment is referred to non-school related topics, I'd say that there should be no reaction from the school precisely because it's not related to the school or anything that may affect it or its image. When students make certain comments, it affects their own image, not the school's. Some days ago, a friend of mine got suspended by her school for 3 days because she was performing "cyber-bullying" to one of her classmates on Facebook from home. The opinions of both the parents of the "victim" and the parents of my friend were completely equal: "This is too much. The school shouldn't be doing this to her as she's not representing the school and this is not even closely related to anything that concerns to the school teachers or directors."
    I think it is quite unfair and sincerely, really stupid that the school reacted this way. I think that if you have an opinion and you want to share it on the social networks, you can do it free of judgements and free of that kind of consequences because everybody has a different opinion and we are free to express them, that's one of the principles of freedom, the freedom of speech. They teach us at school to give our opinions freely and they contradict themselves when they give us some sort of punishment for doing so. And also, well, it was a comment against someone but everybody has something against someone. It is a right to dislike somebody, it is quite natural to do so. There are people who are simply not tolerable for us. Even teachers and school directives dislike someone and make comments about it. If they try to teach us to like everyone and stop judging them, it's hypocrisy in the whole sense of the word.
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    May 6 2012: The last I remember, the USA (where the author is from) has a first amendement in the constitution which authorizes freedom of speech. What are we teaching the children if we punish them for exercising their rights - not matter how immature, undeveloped, or inflammatory their opinions may be? We want them be vocal, involved, and concerned citizens but 'expell them from school' when they voice dissatisfaction. We want to develop leaders but squash them in their first attemtps to lead. If a student had a party and invited all of their 'facebook friends' and told them to their face, would they still be expelled? When did we get so afraid of our children? School is to teach. To grow people. To develop youth into capable, competitive, responsible adults. When they 'clumsily' stumble in teenage angst, we dispose of them. Is it any wonder why the youth can be so disenfranchised?
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      May 6 2012: Nobody is denying freedom of speech. No school would want to deny the student's right to write whatever they want, think what they want, publish what they want. But the US constitution does not protect the writer from the consequences of publishing comments that damage fellow students and their school. (The assumption is that the comments are both untrue and damaging, otherwise there's no point arguing this!)
      This is not about fear. It's about understanding that malicious writing has real world effects that can result in real world feedback of a sort that can be unpleasant to the writer.
      • May 7 2012: There was no assumption that the comments were untrue and damaging but you are right that this is the crux of the matter. If you assume the comments are untrue and damaging then once again the shool has the right to sue; they do not however have the right to take the law into their own hands and become judge and jury. If they feel wronged in public then they should pursue corrective action through due process of law.
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        May 7 2012: Thanks Edmond for replying. I would absolutely agree that if a student broke the law, they need to deal with that in the specified manner. But I would say the last thing we want to do is take a child out of school. Even if they were prosecuted, I would not want them out of school and would hope the judge wouldn't either. I would want them definitely in school and I would want them to get remedial help. We spend a lot of money and effort on those with physical and cognitive disabilities in our education system. I believe we need to consider those with emotional and/or anger issues the same.
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          May 7 2012: I agree wholeheartedly with that- I was responding to the question 'should students be punished' in the general sense of punishment, rather than in the clarification of the question that mentions them being expelled. There's a whole range of appropriate reaction from being counselled by pastoral staff in e-safety through a talk with the head teacher through a range of other more serious punishments. The simple cause of all this is that the internet has immensely changed the ability of individuals to publish without young people being able to appreciate, or be taught, the implications of publication without proper care. It's just a case of doing stuff that hurts other people, and schools have a role in guiding students not to do that- including a range of legal and proper sanctions.
  • May 6 2012: We seem to be forgetting that students are consumers paying (perhaps through a third party, but nevertheless) for the product of education. Well, students forget that too, resulting in a decreased engagement with the lesson.
    Regardless, if there is a student airing grievances via a non-affiliated media tool, maybe it should be considered the equivalent of a Yelp review?

    Now, in the unlikely but unfortunately possible event that a student decides to defame a staff member with no basis in truth (like say, claiming physical harassment or endangerment), an action like that can be considered under the existing laws of libel and slander. We tend to be able to tell those apart though, don't we?
    • May 6 2012: as far as my brain could comprhend the many jargons u have used, i agree with you 100%. however, punishing a student is never the solution.
      • May 6 2012: Well, there has to be some accountability...again on the off chance that some evil little tyke decides to wage unnecessary war on staff. Believe me, there are people out there who are that vindictive.
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    May 6 2012: It's an excellent question because there is such an opportunity for mixing up rights, responsibilities and freedoms. Of course schools don't have, and should not have, control over what students do in their own time and on their own equipment. If they did, the schools would themselves be responsible for any damage done by such action. However, this is not relevant to the question as to whether students should be punished for what they publish. Students have a responsibility not to bring their school into disrepute, and they have a responsibility not to disrupt the education of their colleagues. These responsibilities are rightly the concern of their schools, and if students do bring their schools into disrepute or disrupt the education of their colleagues, the school has every reason to punish them. They also have a responsibility to educate their students in the dangers of repercussions when inappropriate comments are posted- both immediately and far into the future, both for the good of the student and to justify later punishment if the student transgresses.
    • May 6 2012: @Edmond Hui
      sir.. no offence involved here. but the student reflects the school. if the image is tarnished as such, then the student has his/her freedom to reflect the image as it is. i do agree, that the whims of one individual need not be taken into account, but punishing them seems to be an unethical way to resolve such issues.
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        May 6 2012: No offence taken. But I disagree. You have it backwards. The school's image is created and maintained by the students acting individually and together, and the whole school community of any ethical school has a right to assume that a student will not act in a way that will tarnish that image. The student may have a right to truthfully report problems in the school, but does not have a right to maliciously publish comments against others that bring the school into disrepute AND expect not to be punished.

        The comments about whether it's on school equipment are also a red herring- if done on school equipment, it's clearly punishable for being done on school equipment, but it's also still separately and independently punishable for bringing the school into disrepute, or for disrupting the education of others. When and where it's done is irrelevant- it's a harm done to the school community.

        Please explain why punishing such behaviour (which could be extremely damaging to individuals or schools) is unethical.
        • May 7 2012: I think both of you have not read the question, Students only reflect the school while they are at the school. On Facebook they are not representing the school they are representing themselves. No one is going to confuse a stuednt with the school on Facebook. Either way if real damage has been done then the courts should be the recourse for the school.
  • May 6 2012: well... nothing (be it a tool, or an organization or a human being) can build a reputation without being used by or commented on by a third person. seriously, a sledge hammer might have been a tool for one too many massacares. but it is the same tool that gives us various other necessities of life (i dunno, try naming a few). Social media likewise can be used to shape something or ultimately destroy it. It depends upon the subject Who is using them and there is a reason behind it. so instead of punishing kids, schools can dive in deeper and scout for the reason behind such an action. likewise they can build a reputation for themselves and no harm done in the end.
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    May 6 2012: It depends on what sort of comments. A negative, hateful, or disrespectful comment will leave a scar and although there's a lesson to be learned in performing such activities, there will always be those that see the positive things you try to do but are negative for them.
    In my opinion social media is not a place to start, gossip or fuel the words of hate. Its a place to make your voices heard, and if you have something to say that nobody (from parents to your best friends) are ready to listen to then its only natural that you'll take the last resort.
    Be Mindful of your actions, the tomorrow that comes might not forgive for the words spoken yesterday. =)
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    May 6 2012: From my point of view such action is a result, and thus when we want to address this we should look for the root cause that pushed students to fire such comments, we cannot blame them for expressing what they think in a place that is well know it had no restriction upon, we saw that the freedom that social media gave to people led to historical changes in the world, so instead of of going to court , taking no action or applying certain punishment , i think the school should give the student an internal judgment session where the student, the other hurt party and a neutral committee can listen, by doing this i believe such behaviors will start to vanish, all we need in this world is a civilized conversational space where we can express and defend without having a false first seen judge.
  • May 6 2012: This is tough for the 60 year old crowd. My first reaction is to leavew people alone, but there is always
    a line. A kid in school is a minor. Then for college etc., what about schools affailated with
    religious groups?
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    May 5 2012: Robert ,

    Not unless they are using a school provided computer with restricted uses. Under any other conditions it is a parental and personal issue.

    I just heard about a state ( or maybe a district in Maine) that is having specific security software installed in school provided laptops which blocks access to specific types of sites ( dating, pornography etc,). Not sure if it includes Facebook.

    It worries me when parents defer many of their parenting obligations to schools and it worries me more when schools actually take on these parental roles. If a child or teenager uses a computer otherwise to bully, spread false rumors or otherwise harm others that is up to law enforcement or parentsdepending on the level of harm and hopefully mild enough to be resolved among the parties involved.

    Schools should only have any say where they are providing the computers and parents and the child have agreed to limit use.

    What is your sense on this issue?
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      May 6 2012: There is always a what if in these matters. When under school control or if school equipment is used then a violation has occured. I am concerned when these things occur but they are not of school concern. If actual damage has occured then do what you must through other channels. Is there a point when the site (facebook) should limit some comments? If there are threats, hate mail, etc ... perhaps there should be a consequence to the writer. I would love to say the answer is parental control, however, I have met some of the parents and the kids that made the stupid comment were the smartest ones in the family and with the best judgement. Again there is no easy answer. As always there are good people and bad people out there and laws are made because someone stepped over a line. When you read a law or rule and think it is silly remember someone has done something to cause the law to be on the books. I am sure that there will be many new laws from social media incidents. I wanted some info on the White House and got a porn site. It is to easy for kids to be exposed to porn. Perhaps all porn sites should be coded and we can select a don't show anything with this code. I am getting outside of the subject. Sorry. Thanks for your reply. All of the best. Bob.
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        May 6 2012: Robert,



        You are right of course to point to the complexity of the situations in which children are harmed or harm others through the internet. And you are very right to point to the issues of parental control and supervision.

        I live on a small island off the coast of Maine. Every child has a school issued lap top. Recently in the context of a community wide meeting over the arrest of a school employee ( actually someone hired to coordinate internet access and use)for child pronogrpahy ( not involving any kids at school and involving anime only) it became immeditealy apparent that most parents don't own or use or know anything about the internet and were of course quite paniced about that and of course looking to the school to make computer use safe.

        .There was some discussion about training the parents in supervision and controls which seemed to me a better idea along with the kinds of controls referenced in my eralier comment which block access to certain sites.

        I have a young british friend, 11, who is an independent internet user with her own facebook page. She partcipated in a wonderful school based program called "EPals" that seems to have gotten her off on the right fotting on internet use ad she uses it wisely, effectively to learn and share ideas.. EPal is available her in the US and it might be wise if schools are giving out laptops to include programs like EPals as well as parental training .

        I am not for schools doing parenting or filling in the gas in parenting. .
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          May 6 2012: Lindsay, You and I are in the same library, looking at the same book, and on the same page. Thanks for your reply. All the best. Bob.