“Shitty Day Today”- that was the status on my 13-year-old son’s Facebook’s page after a minor incident where he ended up with in-school suspension for a day. This remark triggered a flurry of comments from his friends- Some were supportive, some were aggressive against the school, some were disgusting, some were thoughtful, but for these kids, the general tone was a joke and a conversation between kids. Nothing here was any different than if they were in the courtyard, except that it was on Facebook.
We don’t know how the school gained access to my son’s Facebook page, but they did (there’s no privacy on FB). One of the kids, a High School student freshly graduated from this Middle school talked about “an air soft gun”, therefore the Principal immediately categorized the situation as a cyber bullying emergency and called the Police. Not the parents, the Police.
As a consequence of these recent interpretations of a kids conversation, my son is suspended indefinitely waiting an expulsion hearing, and he is now cited for crime. When I walked to school to pick up his work I was treated as If I was going to throw a grenade in the premises, and I’m wondering if any one really realizes what they are doing.
Anonymous intrusion on social networking sites is the new to police children ouside of their school. Last year, we went to a district School Board meeting to request some comprehensible actions in order to teach kids how to use these new tools responsibly, yet we don’t see any serious efforts in this area. To a point that during Summer break, I myself became a victim of cyber bullying-via anonymous emails- stemming from the fact that my son attends a public school. I ought to think that if a global information effort had been made, my assailants would have known that what he/she/they were doing to report cyberbullying was in itself cyberbullying me.
The way our School system here in the heart of the Silicon Valley is handling what occurs in cyberspace is inappropriate at best, and destructive at worst. Parents are abusing the fact that they have access to their children’s social networking accounts and use this opportunity to “spy” on other families’ lives, reporting to school authorities that are encouraging such behavior. Police came to my door without a search warrant and the school is sanctioning, based on information gathered outside of the school’s purview. Basic procedures (part of the same school district’s rules) are not respected, like mandatory conference before a serious suspension. And basically, nothing is put in place to prevent and teach our children how to use social networking sites. This looks to me irresponsible, doesn’t set any example, doesn’t create a secure environment. Moreover it’s an open door to personal revenge and chaos.
I’m not defending my son, bad judgement and unfortunate choice of words. I deplore that, we, as a family didn’t have the time to talk to him about his comment. I’m outrage that our parental authority has been stolen from us, an that an Anonymous agent was watching his account on cyberspace, violating our privacy and creating more damage that these kids comments. I’m concern by the impact on society if school districts are making common such intrusion in privacy.
In this particular case Obviously, this school supported by its district don’t act with the best educative interest of children in mind.
As one of the comment from the incriminating thread is saying: ” This school is not an happy place…..”
“There is an urgent need to teach and inform pupils in the public schools about their rights, as guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions, in order to increase pupils’ awareness and understanding of their rights and the rights of others, with the intention of promoting tolerance and sensitivity in public schools and in society as a means of responding to potential harassment and hate violence.”
—Cal. Educ. Code § 201(e)
California Education Code http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/cl/
Schools For All Campaign http://www.aclunc.org/SchoolsForAll firstname.lastname@example.org