Friday, November 6, 2009

How far can a school go in punishing students for online behavior?

This is a good article to print out and use in your classroom to generate discussions with your students about online behavior. I first saw a link to this article while reading Net Family News, a great place to go for internet safety news and resources.

The Washington Post ran a very interesting article this week in which two Indiana high school students were disciplined for posting photos of themselves on MySpace that were deemed inappropriate by the school. The two female students were banned from extracurricular activities and forced to apologize to a panel of coaches as punishment. The ACLU has stepped in on behalf of the students and is suing the school for violating the students' rights to freedom of speech. They contend that the pictures were taken during a sleepover in the summer and has had no disruptive effect inside of school.

This is a very interesting debate and discussion that you can have with the students in your classroom. What do your students think about this punishment? What are their arguments to back up their position? What could the students in this situation and the school have done differently to avoid this situation?

Another important aspect of this article to note is that the girls who posted the photos of themselves set their pictures with privacy settings so that only their friends were able to see them, not the general public. However, these pictures were copied, printed and got into the hands of school officials somehow. It is so important to stress that nothing you put online should be considered 100% private.

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