“For Students, a Right to be Mean Online,” Los Angeles Times


This was a disturbing article. Courts have stated that unless a youtube video or web site significantly disrupts the school, kids have a 1st amendment right to say what they want. Fortunately, you can still use the fear of punishment factor. I had a student put up a My Space page impersonating me at a high school. My son quickly found the page online. We narrowed the field to two possible boys, called one’s mother, and told her that if he took it down that evening, we wouldn’t go to the District’s legal department. Lesser rumors have destroyed teacher’s reputations and chances of being hired anywhere else. The site came down.

We had students who put up a very mean webpage about a girl at a private school. This was about 7 years ago, but we were able to get the internet service to give us the IP address of the computer being used. We traced it to a parent’s office, where a student was “entaining themselves” while their parent worked late. We were able to get it taken down, but the girl left the school.

Unfortunately, things put up on the web about you, whether they are true or not, or whether you posted them or not, can be accessed by colleges and employers. So even if a student doesn’t post the pictures of themselves acting inappropriately at a party, if another student does and tags the picture, it would be searchable.

Our media technology is evolving faster than our laws. In the meantime, schools should have students sign an appropriate technology use contract, stipulating the kinds of sites that students will get consequences for creating. If it is created outside of class time, it is much harder to control. However, many students don’t know that you can’t give repercussions for things done outside of school time. Even if the site doesn’t disrupt the school, it can still be very hurtful to the kid or kids singled out for bad treatment. There are enough other things to get embarassed by in high school and middle school.

 http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/13/local/la-me-youtube-schools13-2009dec13/4 by Victoria Kim, Dec. 13, 2009.

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About KLevenson

I am Teacher Librarian at Piedmont High School in the San Francisco East Bay. I am a part time reference Librarian I for the San Francisco Public Library. I have a Masters in Library and Information Sciences from San Jose State and a Teacher Librarian credential in addition to my teaching credential in Science. My first MA was from Harvard in Archaeology. My students teach me something new every time I am with them!
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