• Here is another post about Facebook.

    I heard on the news Monday night that school districts in Missouri are proposing a state law that would ban teachers from becoming Facebook friends with students or former students. The law would also ban teachers and students from communicating through any form of electronic social media network.

    I get the texting ban. Kind of. I guess it’s to keep teachers and students from exchanging naked photos of one another. But there’s never been a ban on teachers and students talking on the telephone; that I know of anyway. Why is that allowed?

    When I heard this my first thought was, that’s just stupid. What harm is there in teachers and students becoming Facebook friends?

    As I listened to the dialogue on the news, a school superintendent was saying the law would protect students because we all know that there are teachers who might prey on students or develop some inappropriate online relationship with a student.

    When I heard that I went bug eyed. I thought, well that makes a ban even more stupid than I originally thought. Are you telling me YOU KNOW you have teachers in your school who you think might develop some inappropriate, sexually charged, relationship with a student on Facebook? A teacher that would do that doesn't belong in any school and they shouldn't be in yours. Get rid of them.

    Besides, Facebook is a very public place. Any teacher who would talk inappropriately to a student on Facebook, first of all, needs to be fired for stupidity, and secondly, might as well be having that conversation in a classroom full of students, because anyone they are fb friends with or the student is fb friends with, would be privy to seeing some form of that conversation, right?


    And, actually a teacher who wants to have an inappropriate relationship with a student surly doesn’t need Facebook to do it. Remember Mary Kay Letourneau who when she was 34, in the summer 1996 began an affair with a 13-year old student. There was no Facebook back then.

    I thought, well young people are probably thinking that anytime adults get involved with something they started, adults ruin it. They are probably thinking, we young people can’t have anything that’s just for us. They are probably thinking what about a law that bans all adults from fb. LOL.

    I remember when my Jordan was in elementary school he wished he had gotten his librarian’s e-mail address so that over the summer he would have been able to talk to her about the books he was reading and she could recommend new books for him to read. She was his favorite teacher and during the school year he spent a lot of time in the library talking to her about books. He recommended books to her and she to him. I remember thinking at the time that e-mailing your school librarian about summer reading was a great idea. 

    So when this news item came up I thought, why not ask Jordan what he thinks about a law banning teachers and students from being fb friends.

    His first words; “that’s stupid.”

    He said, “You don’t need a law for that. I don’t know any teacher who would want to be fb friends with their students. Facebook is too public,” he said. “Teachers have lives outside of school and none of the teachers I know in my school would want students knowing their business.”

    He went on to say, “For example, I know that teachers probably swear. Their friends might swear. But, they don’t swear in school and they wouldn’t want students to hear them swear, not even on fb. I’ve heard lots of students ask teachers to be fb friends and the teachers always say no,” he said,


    Jordan also said a lot of teachers, even the cool ones, probably feel like if students knew too much about their personal lives they might lose some respect for them. And besides, if a teacher wants to have a private conversation with a student, they can do that in school.”

    That’s exactly what I was thinking.

    Hmm.. Sounds to me like the law would actually be protecting the teachers more than the students.

    Then there is this whole thing about not being able to friend former students. What’s that about? I’m friends with several of my old teachers, granted they are all retired now but that’s just a minor detail.

    Then Jordan and I came up with what I think is a great idea, why not have a school Facebook page that every student, teacher and administrator in the school would have access to. Take off the private messaging feature and ban private conversations between a teacher and student in school. Make it so they can only talk on Facebook. That actually might be safer.

    I can see it both ways. Sadly I would be concerned for the teachers (or sports coaches, youth leaders, or any adult mentor) that is a FB friend with young people who get accused of noncompliance with school policies due to FB. Obviously inappropriate convo with a student is a no no; however, bullying on walls between students; suicidal ideations on walls, drug/alcohol references (pics included). Could an adult mentor be fired for non reporting for the above based on being a FB friend? The adult might not have even read the wall; however, a parent could complain to the school that the teacher didn't report. Personally I like that my daughter has adult mentor FB friends as it gives her positive encouragement from other adults and also holds her accountable for her posts and her friends' posts.
    I'm FB with several of my high school teachers, and several of my former students. Of course, I would never DREAM of stalking any of them or trying to have an inappropriate relationship with any of them! But even if I did, FB wouldn't be the place to do it. I'm pretty sure that those types of predators will find a way to do it without FB. Also, these are FORMER students--all grown adults. I can see not having kids as FB friends, though.
    My husband is a high school teacher and is not friends with any of his current students. You never know when one of your friends will tag you in a picture with a beer in your hands! I will have friend requests from some of his students, but never friend them. Again, you never know what could happen. However, after they graduate, they always friend my husband. He coaches baseball and a lot of his old players will facebook their college schedules to him so he can come to watch. I understand the current student thing, but the previous students I don't get.
    I see what you're saying...I will not add students on fb. I always tell them that we can be fb friends when they graduate from college (that way they are far enough removed from the high school that their relationships with current students won't be as much of an issue) or when I no longer work for the district. They understand that it's not that I don't like them as people, but to protect myself. I also tell them I don't want to be able to see all the mess they put on their fb. They all have my e-mail address if they need to contact me, and the girls I coach have my phone number. They text me when they have questions about practice times, etc., but it's never been inappropriate. They know not to abuse it. People need to have common sense.
    Looks like we are all on the same page on this one. Legislating FB doesn't sound like a good idea. Now common sense, that's a great idea. Too bad there are actually peope teaching our children who missed out on the common sense gene. But I'd like to see those folks weeded out. Wouldn't you?
    Ours is a very small community. i even hesitate to add parents of students as friends. And never students. There needs to be a distinction between school, home and real life. We are in the phone book and people never hesitate to call if they need to contact us. We also have email through the school web site if someone needs to communicate with us.
    I'm a teacher and I would never be friends with my students, but it's not to protect them. It's to protect me! I have things that go on in my life that my students don't need to know about. They may lose respect for me, or they may feel too close to me personally that it could jeopardize the teacher/student dynamic. I tell them that yes, I'm on Facebook, and they can send me a friend request as soon as they get their GED! As for legislating it, though, yeah I think that's a little silly. There's such a thing as common sense.
    I'm finding it interesting to hear so many parents, teachers and students getting panicky about this law based only on what they've heard about it. Have you read it? Here's a link to the full bill text on the general assembly's website: Granted, I think the provisions about online teacher-student communication were not well crafted and really don't address the child abuse issue. However, the law doesn't forbid students and teachers to communicate on social network sites. Section 162.069 states that online communication should be public and not private. The attempt is to prevent teacher abuse of a child. The reality is that sometimes teachers do need to speak privately with children -- in person, on the telephone, via texting or online. Preventing those private communications will not keep criminals from breaking the laws against child abuse that are not already on the books. All that said, I do wish people would read the laws and not just reach to rumors or hearsay.

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