Illegal Facebook Friends: Children and Their Teachers
Nov 22, 2011
Missouri may be the 'Show-Me State,' but the state is attempting to ban teachers and students from showing each other their Facebook pages. The move, which may seem extreme, is the result of significant controversy over how the social networking site is used. In recent years, though, Facebook has been known more for teacher embarrassment than predatory behavior.
Missouri Senate Bill 54, which would block students and teachers from communicating on 'nonwork-related Internet sites' like Facebook, was supposed to take effect on August 28. The controversial bill was blocked at the last minute and its fate is now uncertain. Yet the law garnered significant support, including that of Governor Jay Nixon and the Missouri Senate.
The Missouri law was also known as the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act. In the 1980s, Amy Hestir was befriended by a teacher at her school. He had her babysit his kids, then he took their relationship further, with the teacher ultimately forcibly raping the then-13-year-old girl. She became the inspiration for the law aimed at limiting relationships between teachers and students outside of school.
A Long History of Abuse
Facebook only came into existence in 2004, yet it's short life has yielded no shortage of controversies. Teachers throughout the country have been punished, including getting fired, for what were perceived as inappropriate comments on the Facebook pages of their students. Others have faced disciplinary actions after students found embarrassing pictures on the teachers' pages, including pictures glorifying alcohol abuse and sexually suggestive content.
While the Missouri law is designed to prevent teachers from initiating inappropriate relationships with students, most of the stories about teachers in hot water over Facebook involve the teachers inadvertently offending students, parents or their peers on the social networking site. For example, a school administrator in Massachusetts was recently forced to resign after posting on her page that the parents in her town were arrogant snobs and the students were 'germ bags.' That teacher cited her own stupidity in severely damaging her career.
The Benefits of Friending Students
Teachers who lose their jobs over Facebook often warn their peers against not only friending students, but using the site at all without the strictest caution. Yet others point to the benefits social networking sites offer teachers. Today's children have grown up with sites like Facebook and they've become an integral part of their lives. Some teachers use Facebook as a means of better understanding the world of their students. Schools often use Facebook pages because they're easier to update than websites and they can be a convenient forum for discussions and dialogue.
In other situations, teachers use Facebook to keep an eye on their students, both protecting them and investigating them. For example, there are countless stories of teachers uncovering lies their students have told them, such as why they missed class, when the students post the true story on their Facebook pages. In the end, teachers need to tread with caution when it comes to Facebook and similar sites. Just as job seekers are warned against having pictures from alcohol-fueled college parties visible to potential employers, teachers need to consider that anything they post online may find its way into students' hands.
Other Blog Posts You May Be Interested In
A question for parents: would you allow your children to play outside without keeping an eye on them? Many would likely say no. Well, the same mentality should be used when your kids use the Internet; in other words, kids should not be allowed to roam the vast world of the Internet unsupervised and without fully understanding its...
If you have a child in elementary, middle or high school, then you've likely heard plenty of stories about bullying. Even if your child is not the target of bullying, he or she could still be affected by it. As a parent, you'll certainly want to make your kids aware of this persistent and growing problem in schools across the...
Let's face it: moving from kindergarten to first grade can be an overwhelming experience; so can transitioning from elementary school to middle school, or middle school to high school. In many ways, kids can be totally unprepared for what to expect as they move from one grade level to the next. So how can parents help with this...
Is it too early to begin thinking about your child's future career? Whether you have a toddler, tween or teen, it's never too early to begin cultivating interests that might one day turn into a career. So what can you do to steer your child in what is hopefully the right direction?
Are you worried that your child will not be intellectually stimulated during the summer months? While the season should be a time for fun and relaxation, it certainly doesn't hurt to slip some learning in during summer break. So sure, hit the beaches and amusement parks...but consider the following suggestions for activities that are...