OK. So, have you all heard by now about the SenateBill54 in Missouri, signed by the Governor on 7-14-11? It basically says that all educators effective Aug. 28th can no longer be friends with their students on any social media websites. Past or present students of the teacher, as long as the student is 18 years of age and under. It says some other things too but this is the gist of it. I am totally in favor of protecting our kids and I understand the need to do so ( at the appropriate times) but, is this going to far? I mean if you don’t trust your kids teacher enough to be their “friend” on Facebook then I think they shouldn’t have ANY contact with your child at all. I think definitely schools should have their own guidelines concerning the social media and their teaching staff but to actually make it against the law to befriend a student on FB?? This is one of those areas where I think THE PARENTS should be 100% involved in their child’s life. We are so quick to put the blame and responsibility on someone and somewhere else. These are our children, pay attention!! It’s like the old saying, ” It’s 10 o’clock, do you know where your kids are?” Well now-a-days its Facebook, MySpace, Chatrooms, etc., ” Do you know who your kids are talking to and friends with online?” If you have kids and they have a computer or a smart phone, iPad, Nook, Kindle, whatever fancy electronic toy it is, chances are it has WiFi and they are getting online whether you know it or not. My point is if you don’t know who your kids are talking to or what they are doing online, or what they are doing anywhere for that matter, then that is where the problem lies, not with the teachers. Most of our teachers are wonderful educators doing a great job with our kids in sometimes less than ideal conditions, and for crappy pay.
This seems like a no brainer to me. Parents, know what your kids are doing and who they are friends with. Do not let them have a social media site that you do not have access to. Know the passwords. Have your computer in the main room of the house so you can see what they are doing. Have a time limit. Password protect your computer so only you know it. And one of the easiest and my personal favorite is open communication. Keep the lines open. Common sense stuff.
I would like to borrow this quote from this great blog at americancatholic.org by Katie Carroll. She says ” We have to take that extra step mentally to remind ourselves that not all Muslims are terrorist extremists, not all Southern pastors are irresponsible book-burners, and not all priests are a disgrace to their vows.” Well, I would add to that and say not all teachers are sexual predators.
All that being said, I think if I was a teacher, I would have to draw the line at my personal web page not letting the kids I teach into that world. Mostly because of the judgmental and sue-happy place this world has become. Plus you know occasionally I like to let the expletives fly and I would hate to have to watch my mouth all the time. ;-) Just kidding, seriously though I wouldn’t want them in my world 24/7. It’s like the good advice I learned the hard way, not to friend people you work with, it can really bite you in the butt. Same in this situation.
Other questions about this…What about the many youth group leaders who are friends with and keep in contact with their YG through social media? Also the teacher/parent, are they exempt from being labeled a sexual predator if they are friends with family/own kids? What are your thoughts? In Missouri now, is it headed to Illinois? Is it really that big of a deal?