I remember a million years ago when I was going to school (in a one-room schoolhouse that I walked five miles to), a big debate that frequently flared up was whether children should be disciplined by the school for something that happens off school properties. This issue is hitting interesting 21st century complications, as schools seek to punish children for offenses committed online and are thus able to be accessed at school. This includes posting pictures of alcohol use, cyber bullying, and, in the case of a school in Georgia, writing nasty things about a teacher on Facebook.
The school in Douglas County has already expelled one seventh grader and suspended two others over Facebook posts in which they called a teacher a “pedophile,” “rapist,” and “bipolar.” Their parents are claiming that, while the comments were wrong, the school shouldn’t be punishing the children for posting things from the privacy of their own homes. The school argues that, once something is posted on Facebook, it becomes “public.” Lawyers may soon be getting involved.
This specific case is muddied by the exact terms the children used. The fact that the word “pedophile” was thrown out there, a word which obviously could damage a teacher’s reputation more than nearly other, seems to give more credence to the school’s argument. Same if the comments had, in some way, threatened the teacher. However, if you disregard that issue and focus more on the general story, this becomes another in a long line of etiquette issues that are completely new to a society thanks to the Internet and social media.
So, to all the parents or school employees (and anyone else with an opinion), what do you think? Do you think students (not necessarily these specific ones) should get punished by the school for posting things online from off school premises?
Watch a video report on the Georgia case from Fox 5 in Atlanta below:
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