The H.S. administration is upset about a new twitter account that has been set up for kids to post anonymous tell-all confessions about the bad things they are up to. Tweet after tweet has kids bragging about vandalism, drug use, sexual encounters, etc. I think what really got the school upset is that there are a few kids making thinly disguised stories about having sex with teachers. The email from H.S. principal Chaffin is posted after the jump.
This social media acting out has been going on for as long as the internet has been around. I looked back in the archives of the old blog and found a post that covers much of the same issues. Back in 2007, the big scandal was kids writing insulting things about teachers on MySpace. I wrote some emails to the super back then, I think they are still pretty relevant to what is happening now. This quote from those exchanges gets to the nub of the issue:
There are two primary facts that have to be kept in mind when you are dealing with a situation where kids are doing bad things on the Internet.
1. Back when we were kids, there was a lot of writing on restroom stall walls that insulted teachers, other students, etc. That’s the nature of kids.
Now we have the Internet, which allows kids to write insults on a much bigger wall that can be seen by more people. But the best way to deal with this kind of childish behavior is no different than back in the old days. You paint over the insults, and move on. Making a big deal out of it just feeds into the power of the wall-scrawler.
All Internet websites have contact info for the administrators of the websites, and an e-mail to them asking for the deletion of offensive content will quickly cause the webpage to be removed. That is the best tactic to suggest to any parent or teacher who reports content that they feel is insulting to them personally.
2. You, as superintendent, are not the Internet police. You have influence over the things that happen in the school, but the things that happen on the Internet – even things that involve kids at the school – are not under your control. The job of “Internet cop” is not part of the school’s mission, and it would be futile to start down that path.
I don’t want to be unsupportive of kids who are being harassed on the internet. When it happens in large amounts over an extended time, it is reasonable for the school to help the kid get the offending material removed. Same for teachers, they shouldn’t have to put up with a campaign of harassment.
But the overwhelming majority of the confessions on this new twitter account are not aimed at any one person, they are just stuff like “Got drunk and had sex before the superbowl -OHS” , “I’m a senior and have a boyfriend but still hookup with my ex on the weekends” -Desales, “A freshman used bible pages to roll joints” -Columbus Academy.
If the school is trying to get this twitter account shut down because of stuff like this, they are being the internet police. Good luck with that! To Chaffin’s credit, he does acknowledge it is a futile task.
Once this twitter feed is taken down, there will likely be another one in a short amount of time if past trends continue.
If that is true, why even try to get it shut down?
This is the email that was sent out by principal Chaffin:
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