Readers — So kihktadskk
a 79-year-old sub in New Hampshire (the good ol’ “Live Free or Die” state) was given the choice: De-friend all the students you’ve friended on Facebook or never work in this school system again.
She chose the latter.
This story is dismaying for a bunch of reasons, the first being thatÂ Facebook is like the modern-day town center, where people meet and greet — even people of different ages. Seeing it as the Pedophile Pages is like seeing the outside world as Child Snatch-o-Rama.
Also disturbing is the comment one supporter of the rule wrote on Facebook itself (the devil’s tool):Â Â â€œRules are rules and while her intentions MIGHT be good, I am sure parents donâ€™t want male teachers friending their 14/15 year old daughters on facebook!â€
MIGHT be good? Like there’s a decent chance this lady was really out to lure jail bait back to her lair? And what’s with the demonization of male teachers? Oh right…it’s the demonization of males who are teachers. Because if all teachers are suspect, MALE teachers are simply terrifying. – L.
P.S. Thanks to William Noren for sending and bringing up all these great points!
UPDATE: Reader Crystallee Newton Â explains what brought this case to the fore:
This was a new rule in response to a recent scandal where a young male teacher was sexually abusing a female student. This happened about 30 minutes from where I live. Local news stories interviewed current and former students of this teacher (who is a substitute, by the way, not a full time teacher) and by all accounts she is a lovely older woman who uses her FB page to spread inspiration to her friends (yes, including students) and for years has been a positive influence to the students she interacted with. This town is known for it’s crippling poverty and drug abuse. The kids in that district need more people like this woman. After the abuse scandal, the school district made a knee-jerk reaction policy to ban FB friendships between students and teachers in an attempt to look like they were doing something. The student who was assaulted by her teacher (allegedly multiple times) was not assaulted over FB, she was sexually molested in a classroom at her school. The school boa
rd should try figuring out how that happened with no one noticing or being aware of the situation. It certainly had nothing to do with an almost 80 year old substitute teacher passing along inspirational quotes to kids who look up to her. That’s why this is a Free-Range issue. This is just another example of these blanket bans that protect no one, and punish innocent people. – CrystalleeÂ
I just don’t understand why facebook friending is more dangerous than leaving your child or teen ACTUALLY IN A ROOM with the person for hours. If there is any molestation or grooming going on I would think it would happen during those hours the adult is with the child/teen, with no other supervising adults, rather than when the child/teen is at home on facebook where everything could be logged and the parents could potentially look over the child/teen’s shoulder.
If all adults are pedophiles just waiting for an opportunity, then school is offering up your child daily in a pedo-buffet.
My sister is a teacher and has two Facebook accounts, personal and professional. On her professional teacher account she can friend her students and she doesn’t post anything from her personal life there. Having that teacher’s account helps her a the students with school tremendously. I agree, they shouldn’t be personal friends but being fired over it is ridiculous.
Generally I think it’s a bad idea for students/teachers to be “friends” on Facebook. I have a bad opinion about FB to begin with (and deleted my acct a few years ago). There’s at teacher at our HS that allows students to be his “friend” after they graduate. It’s kind of right of passage (and I think he posts in a pretty immature manner anyway) after the kids graduate, they all submit their requests and he accepts them. Using that kind of common sense removes the possibility that he’ll see any posts that he would feel he would have to make a decision about (drinking, gossip, etc). I don’t see it as a ‘danger’ thing, but what makes sense for all parties involved.
If it’s that important to the person in the story, good for them I guess. Not sure why a substitute teacher would be ‘friending’ occasional students to begin with.
This was a new rule in response to a recent scandal where a young male teacher was sexually abusing a female student. This happened about 30 minutes from where I live. Local news stories interviewed current and former students of this teacher (who is a substitute, by the way, not a full time teacher) and by all accounts she is a lovely older woman who uses her FB page to spread inspiration to her friends (yes, including students) and for years has been a positive influence to the students she interacted with. This town is known for it’s crippling poverty and drug abuse. The kids in that district need more people like this woman. After the abuse scandal, the school district made a knee-jerk reaction policy to ban FB friendships between students and teachers in an attempt to look like they were doing something. The student who was assaulted by her teacher (allegedly multiple times) was not assaulted over FB, she was sexually molested in a classroom at her school. The school board should try figuring out how that happened with no one noticing or being aware of the situation. It certainly had nothing to do with an almost 80 year old substitute teacher passing along inspirational quotes to kids who look up to her. That’s why this is a free-range issue. This is just another example of these blanket bans that protect no one, and punish innocent people.
I think there’s a good case to be made that teachers shouldn’t be Facebook friends with their students while the students are in their class. I’m sure everyone would set out to treat their friends and non-friends exactly the same when giving out grades, but inadvertent favoritism is likely, and the perception of favoritism is almost certain.
Our school offered driver’s ed in the late 80’s. My group was made up of four girls. We were instructed by Coach T, the football coach. As all of us had grown up on farms and been driving since at least 10, the hour and a half loops on county roads soon became boring. Some days we’d go to my house. Mom would fix us a snack and Coach T would take a nap on the rec room sofa. Other days, we’d go to Coach T’s wife’s families fishing camp and shoot pool or play basketball. How many times did something inappropriate happen? ZERO How many times was an accusation made? ZERO Today, Coach T, now a happily married grandfather of six, would have been ridden out of town on a rail for daring to be alone with four 15 year olds. Which is sad, because he was a 6’7 cream puff and gave really good advice to silly, stupid girls!
Funny, I had been hearing muttering from teachers and others on how to use Facebook to improve student education. Students could post questions on homework assignments and other students and the teacher could use wall space to work on a problem together or post help or solutions so that student could check their work. It would seem that a teacher having a professional Facebook page for student outreach would be something a school might embrace.
@J, this wasn’t a professional facebook page, it was a private page for a part time sub.
Most school systems have a ‘blackboard’-like web-based system that provides internet resources.
To me the ruling on it depends of if this rule is a new rule they just made up or was it in place at the start of their contract or at least before the school year started?
If that was a set rule in the contract or something set up before school started, then yes, the teacher should have abided by it. But if they just now made it up mid year mid contract then I don’t think they should legally have to abide by it at least until the next contract/school year starts.
I have a couple of the teachers at the school on my friends list. It is hard to draw the line because sometimes I rant about the school on my facebook and I know they might see it and I don’t wanna hurt their feelings etc.
I try not to friend under age kids. I have one of my best friends little girl on my friends list but I have known her since she was a newborn. Then I have one or two other underage kids but that is it. I typically avoid friending kids because I don’t want to say something that might be too adult for them and have to edit myself.
Facebook is soooooo over… Snapchat is the new oxygen for young people… That’s why they are adding adults, coz it’s no longer the cool thing
“Facebook is a wonderful communication tool among friends,â€ said Dr. Middleton McGoodwin. â€œBut teachers are not studentsâ€™ friends.”
When did he get to dictate how to use social media? I cannot imagine a BETTER way for a 79 year-old teacher to interact with students. She may not be as mobile as she used to be. What they could learn from this woman who hails from one of the greatest generations is staggering. But teachers shouldn’t *friend* students. It would be safest for all if robots just took over teaching students so there are no relationships at all. Heaven forbid we have more friends, wise and respected teachers most of all.
As far as the “risk” angle (not that it was an issue for this particular sub), teacher/student issues are not quite that rare. In our HS, there was a coach who was KNOWN to flirt and act on that flirtation (he had a “temporary” classroom due to growth, so it was easy for him to ask girls to stay after class where he’s hug and try to plant a kiss on them). Most of the girls thought he was a horny older guy who lost his one-time looks and laughed it off, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t breaking rules and laws. We were just too stupid/naive to report him.
A few years after we graduated he was fired for a relationship with a student.
I worked with a guy who’s sister in law was a HS student. He works in IT and was doing some work on her computer. He discovered an email exchange between the student and a part-time coach/sub.
I realize that this lovely women was of no risk to the students, but I can see this become a headache for the schools.
oops, meant to include that the coworker submitted the files/photos to the sheriff’s office and the sub was arrested.
I agree that teachers probably should not “friend” their students unless it is a professional/classroom page. I can’t for the life of me imagine why they would even want to any more than I would want to friend my clients. I spend enough time at work. My personal Facebook page is personal time, not business time.
I can also understand why the school would have the rule. We did have a case involving a teacher (a female teacher, by the way) who had an inappropriate Facebook relationship with a 12 year old student. There was never anything inappropriate in person but she sent him some extremely inappropriate messages and pictures via Facebook. In addition, school administrators don’t have time to constantly field complaints from parents about images and comments on their teachers’ personal Facebook pages. I’ve heard of parents complaining over drinking alcohol, vacation (bathing suit) pictures and PDAs. While I think the parents are stupid to complain about that kind of stuff, I don’t fault the school for not wanting to deal with it on a regular basis. Better to ban friending students than to try to censor teachers’ personal web presence.
And this is a rule that needs to be one size fits all. You can’t start deciding who you think will have innocuous Facebook posts and allow them to friend students and stop those who you think may drink beer while sitting on their husband’s lap in a bathing suit at the beach.
What does this rule actually prevent? Nothing. Nothing at all.
In today’s world, people can tweet, snapchat, Skype, email, text, and contact each other in way more private ways than Facebook. Anyone remember “Carlos Danger” / Anthony Weiner?
Frankly, a public Facebook account is fairly innocuous.
@Maggie, Donna pointed out a few issues the school has to deal with in regard to public social ‘friendships’ between teachers and students. Parents that don’t like what the teacher’s may chose to post, teachers that are ‘only’ friends with a subset of students, teachers that observe or become aware of student behavior that is against school policy or law.
Of course, there are all sorts of communication methods for an inappropriate relationship between staff/students, but I can understand and support the attempts to eliminate a FB “friendship”.
It’s not necessarily about child abuse, but it is about boundaries. Many students and parents don’t have them. Schools need to make sure teachers do. Also, teachers who friend their students thru social media need to be aware that they might become privy to more information than they want to assume responsibility for. Boundaries exist for reasons, even if most people don’t realize what those reasons are.
A while back we were told we couldn’t friend any students on facebook. ANY student in the district and that we were total idiots for using facebook. That it should be we couldn’t friend ANY on under 18.
When he said ANY student he (our principal) meant ANY student – my coworkers were ordered to defriend their own CHILDREN, nieces, nephews, and cousins. They stormed HR that day. The policy was clarified
We could friend family members that were students. We could friend students who we had a preexisting relationship with the family outside of school. So my coworker who ran a group for her sons’ outside basketball league could continue to friend players that happened to be students in our district.
Now 2 years later teachers who teach students over 13 are encouraged to have a professional page. They can post info about their class/assignments/communicate with parents and students. I think having a personal and professional page is a good idea if you are going to communicate with kids/parents via facebook.
For me facebook is for family and friends. I don’t want students/parents in that space, because I don’t want to have to censor my speech. I do my best to be neutral politically at school – it is my job to teach kids to think critically not what to think. On facebook I want to state my opinions and argue with my cousins.
I have several primary-age students on a ‘hangout’ in Google Plus, because they were the ones who actually got me on Gmail. Their main teacher is also on the same ‘hangout’. It’s been very useful at times, particularly after the last earthquake. Have never found it an issue, have never even asked the school about such things actually.
I wouldn’t write anything remotely controversial on these hangouts, or my personal Facebook page anyway, because they can always be looked at. That’s like putting things on paper – if you’re in a bad mood you shouldn’t be preserving your thoughts, LOL!
That said, I imagine this teacher has had a gutsful, at 79 of all this sort of ‘keep the kids a distance’ nonsense. Good on her for leaving.
I would throw a fit too about the rule that you can’t have any students on your facebook friends list including your own kids, nieces, nephews, friends’ kids you have known forever, etc. Basically if I had them on my friends list before I started working there or have known them before I started working there, they are grandfathered in. I would fight that too. Parents need to have their kids friended so they can keep an eye on facebook activity for one thing.
I am a teacher and definitely not friends with any students. I think it is an issue of professional boundaries. That said in my senior maths class I run a Facebook group for my students that we are all in, so they can support each other with the work and I can help them with homework over the weekends. You can get the benefits of facebook without needing to be friends with everyone.
” Today, Coach T, now a happily married grandfather of six, would have been ridden out of town on a rail for daring to be alone with four 15 year olds. ”
Don’t be surprised to be one day soon contacted by a lawyer with a court order to have you put to forced hypnotherapy in order to “retrieve suppressed memories of sexual abuse”.
That’s all the rage here, though the targets are usually old male swim coaches.
After all, they all had to “touch” their pupils at some point in order to prevent them drowning, which is very easy for a shrink to turn into “sexually inappropriately touch”.
hmm interesting as I’ve only heard teachers be told not to facebook students not in regards to the students but to protect the teachers, From children trying to get too friendly with them, students that may want to target/hurt them etc, false accusations, students finding out where they live/family members…. There is always the other side too??
I for one can not understand that need to control facebook usage of teachers. I understand @Donna arguments, school is trying to control legal risk. I would put this rule into the same category outrages over unlocked door on the building or even as removing playground structures.
While I do not doubt some teachers used facebook to send inappropriate materials to children, I doubt it happen all that much often. Most teachers that accept “friend requeses” from students dont have anything remotely private or inappropriate in there.
It is just another moral panic over unknown technology (not really new) and another overly broad rule made out of fear and need to control others.
Various people can and do use facebook in various ways. While some truly put there only private things, others treat it as essentially public forum to track all acquaintances and all people they ever met.
There is no reason facebook friend requeses of teacher that treats it in later way. The same way as you can not limit teachers blogging, public tweeting and who follows/read those things. Especially since Facebook is something our generation uses, young people tend to use other platforms. Facebook is for communication with parents and grandma.
Plus, some people seem to have strong ideas on how everybody else should use Facebook (in a very limited way and optimally not at all). I do not see people and employers obsess over google+, irc, twitter, email, wordpress, github or whatever accounts.
There seem to be a lot of anger over Facebook existence and over others use Facebook and I have hard time to understand that. Why all the hate? Yes, Facebook is not really trustworthy company, but it would be hard to find one big trustworthy company. Facebook is no exception here.
“It is just another moral panic over unknown technology”
It’s hardly unknown (nor, by itself, is it a “technology”), and its detractors include many people with long professional experience with computers and who were using the internet when only a handful a people had even heard of it.
And the curtain goes up on more security theatre!
Andy – While I think the predator issue is rare and not really worth addressing Facebook individually (if a kid has a Facebook page, he also has an email account), the other issues are very real and very common.
Schools dealing with parents complaining about teacher Facebook posts absolutely is a reality in the US. Every single county surrounding my city (about 7) has had to deal with it at least once. And those are just the situations that made the paper due to the teachers being fired and often lengthy hearings for reinstatement. And it is all innocuous stuff that the teachers never thought would raise eyebrows. A picture of them drinking a beer in Amsterdam on summer break. A picture of them in a bathing suit at the lake. A picture of them kissing a boyfriend. Political comments or postings. Sometimes they weren’t even the ones who posted the “offensive” pictures but were tagged by someone else.
America is what it is and right now America is full of a bunch of whiners and snowflakes. We are a country where large numbers pull their children out of school for an unexcused absence because the school is playing a stay-in-school speech by a president that they didn’t vote for. Where many want to constantly force their morality and choices on everyone else. Heck, you see the judgment and condemnation for people who make different choices from posters here and we’re some of the more accepting people in the country.
While I don’t support the whiners and snowflakes at all, I also see absolutely no value added to my child’s education by her being Facebook friends with her teachers, so I don’t see anything positive in the school district spending time battling the stupid masses over these issues. Ban teachers friending students and be done with the issue completely.
As someone who graduated from this school district and had Mrs. T as a sub numerous times: this is not what we should be talking about.
Less than a week before this occurred, the school superintendent got the budget voted on for next school year… and then fired four teachers. Five, counting the criminal one. By all accounts, good teachers of core subjects, because no one on the school board was told the reason next year’s budget was cheap was because it could only work if teachers were fired.
In NH, teachers can be fired, for no reason, until they’ve been in a school for five years. People were outraged for three or four days, and then Mrs. T got slammed, and everyone forgot about it.
It’s horrible Mrs. T got lost, but it’s worse that she’s a distraction.
I have a facebook account and a FEW of my friends have been as young as 14 and I wasn’t related to them although they’re all grown up now. BUT my account consists of photos that show case all my travels so my friends can see where I’ve been and comment on the pictures IF they so choose. I’ve never posted anything controversial on my account and the only time I take part in facebook chats is when one of my friends engages me if they see me online otherwise I just don’t have the time. Once in a while, I will scan thru some of my friends’ accounts to see what they’ve been up to and I might “like” one or more of their photos and maybe post a comment or two under them. I have NEVER facebook chatted with any of my minor friends BUT if they ever engaged me in a chat, I would have no problem doing so. But the meat of our conversation would be, “So what have you been up to and how is school? Do you like your teachers and do you play any sports?” etc., etc. That’s all. It’s not like I’d say, “Hey Chris, let’s meet at the Burger King restaurant at 4 o’clock on Thursday and don’t forget your wrestling gear”! Nor would I ever post a comment underneath a pic of their’s saying “Gosh Trent, you really look hot with your shirt off!” But that’s what most Americans assume will happen when you have unrelated minors as facebook friends. We sexualize EVERYTHING between adults and kids.
It’s fun accumulating friends on facebook but the biggest thing I like about facebook is being able to find friends of your’s whom you haven’t seen or heard from in years and then rekindling that friendship!
I think Donna brings up some good points as to why teachers and young students should not be facebook friends. If all teachers used common sense as to what they post on their account, this wouldn’t be an issue. BUT then again, if a parent is uncomfortable with what they see on the teacher’s account, they can easily demand that their son or daughter de-friend them.
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@Donna I read articles and outrages about minor unimportant things, but I always assumed its just a vocal minority of people reacting this way. So, I can imagine problems with these things being more frequent then reasonable director can put up with. After all, he can not direct school when he deals with PR problems constantly.
It is sad, traditional look at USA is that you are very tolerant country. Do they really take kids out when Obama/Bush talk?
The trouble is that it is safe to assume that no matter how much is banned, Amsterdam beer offended people will find something to get angry at. I knew one or two people like this and it was not about what you did, it was about them being predisposed to overreaction.
I know this teacher personally, as my family lived in and attended this school district, including our two daughters. This teacher is amazingly inspiring. She has been able to reach kids no other teachers could reach, and I can say that from first hand experience.
I think this goes to something much deeper than just FB, and that is the entire culture of this school system and so many others. It’s turned into a one-size-fits-all, just go along and get along, just be quiet, do what we say, and don’t rock the boat. As a teacher, you are strongly discouraged from thinking outside the box for the best end results to reach the students. As a parent, you are especially discouraged from bringing issues to light.
Sorry to state the obvious, but the state of public education is so incredibly broken and frustrating!
“I always assumed its just a vocal minority of people reacting this way.”
It is just a vocal minority, but vocal minorities can still tie up school resources. If it were as simple as a principal saying “get over it” to the complaining parents and the issue dying, it would be fine, but that isn’t what happens. For example, for the last year our school district has been fighting with ONE SET OF PARENTS over the removal of a book from a reading list — it wasn’t even a required book; it was simply on the suggested reading list. This issue took over a year and at least 5 meetings/hearings to resolve. It moved from the teacher to the principal to the Superintendent to a hearing before the local school board to the State Board of Education for an appellate hearing. I do think the issue is now finally completely dead, but tons of hours of school district employee time went into this ONE PARENT’s complaint.
Fine for a book. A complete waste of my tax dollars over Facebook. And I’d much rather see schools just tell teachers not to friend students than to try to censor teacher’s personal pages.
“Do they really take kids out when Obama/Bush talk?”
No, just when Obama does. And I believe most schools actually caved and agreed to have an alternative activity during the speech for students whose parents refused to allow them listen so no kids were taken out of school. Obama hasn’t given a speech to students since to my knowledge, but I’ve been gone for a couple years so maybe he did.
@Donna – that’s crazy, about pulling your kids out just because a political leader you don’t personally agree with is speaking, particularly when he’s talking about a nonpolitical topic. Heck, I think Bush is one of the most evil men in the world of recent times, but I still got my boy to watch his Gulf War announcement. We also watched anything, come to think of it, that has been shown down here that either of your recent presidents have said, because if nothing else their speeches are usually educational. And we’re not even Americans.
Our own leaders seldom say things of interest during the school day, but I can’t imagine that people would pull their kids out of school just because one decided to…
BTW, all three kids of their own accord insisted on watching Obama’s ‘commencement address’ I think you call it. Am not sure why, I think it was because they were pleased a mixed race person could get to be a leader, and I guess it was history too.
@hineata – This was a speech specificially for school children. It said nothing other than education is important and stay in school. Many Presidents have done them before, but this was tbe first time large amounts of parents boycotted.
There have been many instances of great disrespect for the office of the President since Obama was elected. I don’t mean the usual political fighting crap, but actual disrespect of the office like booing during a speech to Congress. I suspect it is racial but the US is also becoming more polarized and unpleasant so we will see if this stuff happens with the next few Presidents.
@Donna Out of curiosity, which book those parents did not liked and what was their problem with it?
Andy – “And the Earth Did not Devour Him” by Tomas Rivera due to profanity. I haven’t actually read the book so I don’t know anything about it other than what was in the newspaper articles.
Apparently, it was assigned as a 7th grade reading assignment. I had thought that it wasn’t, but it was (I was in Samoa for most of this fight). She complained and the Superintendent agreed to allow parents to opt their kids out and let them read another book, but left it on the reading list. Having won the right for her child not to read the book, she continued to fight to have it completely removed because parents can’t be expected to read permission slips (really). And she appealed it to the State Board of Education TWICE. This whole thing took longer than her kid was in 7th grade so it was far more about controlling other people’s children than any interest in her own child.
“What does this actually prevent?” Well, I can think that it might help keep a struggling kid from harming him or herself if the teacher sees wording suggesting it might happen and steps in with a caring attitude.
It also prevents kids from from having an attitude that they are only accountable to their own age group. By having friends of multiple age groups they learn maybe a little from the wisdom of their elders…something that used to be done in church or apprenticeship settings.
It might help a kid who is being pressured to do things that they don’t want to do to say no. Because you know, the teacher can see some of the the student conversation and no one wants to get in trouble.
I like the idea of having two face book pages. One for the “professional” side, and one for personal. Sure, stuff can be posted on both, but maybe family likes to have some of their things not shown. I know a college professor who uses FB for their classes – it is an opportunity for students to reach the teacher outside of consulting hours, it allows other students to help each other, and overall helps the class.
And, while not FB, our school district uses Edmodo (a closed FB system) for many of the classes for exactly the same as the professor above. Kids can check on assignments and get notes from other kids if they missed class.
Edmodo has lots of great potential – it also has the potential to have every single problem that FB has. And yet…the school district is requiring some of my kids to have accounts.
School system policies dictating teacher and/or student behavior on their personal social media crosses a line. In the case of government run schools, at least, that line is drawn by the 1st amendment. If a teacher is going to maintain a presence in social media, it behoove a them, professionally, to do so via a professional profile to maintain the professional detachment. This is as much for the teacher’s protection as their students’. If the school system wishes to have a social media platform that is entirely under their control, it is incumbent on them to provide such a platform themselves.