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Robert Winner

TEDCRED 100+

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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: 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.

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