Backburner

Backburner
Photo: Graur Codrin (click photo to link)

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
BY M.B.
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 Facebook.com 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 ----

3 comments:

Dita said...

Yikes. Internet security is quite scary. All of the men fishing for young children and the like and our children born with innocence. Quite scary, yes.

Kathleen K said...

But the point is that the father missed an opportunity to teach his son about the value of civility in this society.

Ann said...

I agree, Kathy.

The superintendent seems to be responding with an appropriately calm, measured, and educational approach.