Photo: Graur Codrin (click photo to link)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In the interests of fairness, here's the rest of the story...

Online rudeness has its source in parents
Letters to the editor--May 23, 2007

With chagrin and disbelief, I read the recent articles concerning S. area teens' use of Facebook and MySpace blogs to set up brawls, make threats and lob insults at each other. To put it mildly, these young people used very poor judgment.

What bothers me far more is the cavalier remarks of some of the parents quoted in the articles. One characterized his son's behavior as "freedom of expression,'' and another objected to S. Superintendent G.'s proactive calls to parents.

Wow! With remarks like that, one begins to understand how the kids decided that such rudeness was OK. Then, it's not such a leap to bullying, harassment and other incivilities. These are not harmless acts; they do violence to their intended targets.

S. is very lucky to have a superintendent of schools who cares about such things as civility, and community responsibility.

K. K.

Saline superintendent went overboard
Letters to the editor, May 20, 2007

Recent articles have appeared in both the S. Reporter and The A. News about postings in Facebook by S. High School students. I was quoted, however briefly, in The A. News, as saying that I am a supporter of my son's freedom of expression. What was not emphasized in the article was that my son did not post a threat to the superintendent, Dr. B. G., but merely participated in the forum. He did, however, refer to Dr. G. in an unkind manner. This type of freedom of speech is discouraged in our family. I want to set the record straight on this point.

The postings took place in September or October and were a response to the superintendent enforcing part of the dress code, which irritated many of the youth as they were told to keep their varsity jackets in their lockers during the school day. Nothing was said about these postings until a few weeks ago. Why the wait? I really do not know, except that there has been some anti-superintendent sentiment brewing since she canceled the Hxxx tournament some youth put together, after prior approval and much student preparation a few weeks back. This cancellation for "safety reasons'' really ticked off a lot of students.

So, after getting a phone call from Dr. G. earlier in the day, my wife and I found ourselves sitting in the superintendent's office with a printout of the postings and various entries circled for us to mull over. Some photos were shown to us as inappropriate.

One posting was not from our son and another was arguably not offensive. She agreed. So why were we asked to meet? Was our son guilty by association or was this an attempt to scare people into keeping quiet about her for reasons I am not keeping up with?

We left the meeting feeling uncomfortable about the whole thing because my son really did not do a whole lot wrong to merit being brought before a superintendent of schools, and the experience left me feeling a little harassed, frankly.

I believe in protecting students from Internet evils and public officials from being threatened, but not to the point of ridiculousness.


Father of blogger fails to teach his son civility
Letters to the editor, May 15, 2007

After reading the story about the teen who denigrated the S. school superintendent in an Internet blog, it should not surprise anyone as to why our young increasingly show disrespect to anyone for any reason.

K. S. believes his son did no wrong by calling the S. superintendent a disparaging name. The loser here will not only be the son, who is not being taught what most parents consider positive relationship skills. The biggest loser will be society, as the son continues to take us down this slippery slope. Dad is teaching his son his own self-absorbed vision of life's lessons. This is most likely a result of our obsession with one's self-esteem (no boundaries) that has gone out of control. No wonder other cultures look at us with disdain. We're becoming a society without simple courtesy or basic manners.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Parenting for Incivility

(Names and place names have been abbreviated to maintain some anonymity.)

Doesn't rudeness count for anything? No wonder there's a problem with bullying....K

S.'s father K. S. said his son did nothing wrong.

"There's no shame in expressing yourself,'' said K. S., who attended the meeting along with B. S.'s mother. "Unless (not criticizing administrators) is in the code of conduct, then there's no reason to quash the freedom of expression.''

Online comments roil officials
May 08, 2007
A. News Staff Reporter

Editor's note: This story contains a term that may offend some readers. The News does not print profanity unless it is important for the understanding of the story.

S. High School Senior B. S. thought the disparaging comments he posted on about the school district superintendent would only be seen by other members of his network on the Web site.

S., 18, was surprised when he was called to the superintendent's office with his parents for what he described as a scolding.

B. G. the S. superintendent, found out about the group - called "new superintendent = bitch'' - and other sites she said contained "inappropriate language.'' She held meetings with families, including the one with S. and his parents.

G. said the aim of the meetings was to address the "limited understanding'' that parents and young people have about the dangers of Internet postings.

"A lot of things were said about people, including me, that were hurtful, ignorant,'' said G., who declined to say how many students were involved in meetings. "I paused and thought, 'What is my responsibility?' These are our students.''

S.'s father K. S. said his son did nothing wrong.

"There's no shame in expressing yourself,'' said K. S., who attended the meeting along with B.S.'s mother. "Unless (not criticizing administrators) is in the code of conduct, then there's no reason to quash the freedom of expression.''

G. said that young people and their parents do not realize the nuances of Internet safety, particularly with regard to Web sites such as MySpace and Facebook, two social networks. To raise awareness, the district has scheduled two community meetings for Wednesday, one in the morning and one at night.

On Facebook, members have personal profiles and can belong to groups which also maintain profiles. Group members can post comments, such as opinions and event information, on a group's profile.

Facebook offers varying security settings and the group in question was only accessible to members of the Saline High School network, B. S. said.

"Everything online is potentially public because someone can get into it, but the idea behind having your group only accessible to the network was kind of that safety net for us,'' he said. "We thought no one outside our network would see it.''

G. said that she does not have a Facebook account and that concerned parents drew her attention to the group, as well as to "a number'' of other Facebook groups and Web sites in the past six weeks or so. G. said some of them contained racial- and gender-biased statements and sexually harassing comments, she said.

In cases where she perceived a threat, G. said she was be obligated to call the police. In other instances, such as S.'s, she notified parents and brought the family in for a meeting.

G. declined to say how many threats she may have passed along to the police, but P. Township Director of Public Safety J. P. said that those found threatening are currently under investigation.

"Kids talk to each other, they think it's the same type of secrecy as going into a room, writing in a diary and locking it in the top drawer,'' P. said.

P. will be among the speakers at the community meetings Wednesday. The seminars were planned for parents and students to shed light on online risks, G. said.

"Young people may unwittingly be opening themselves to consequences they hadn't thought about,'' she said.

Contact M. B. at ----