Cyber bullying, freespeech, home computer use article [telecom]

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MSNBC has an article on cyberbullying rules vs. free speech.  It also
deals with schools responding to statements made on home computers
independent of school networks.

Please see:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28629118 /

***** Moderator's Note *****

Having attended a parochial school, I can attest to the sad truth that
too many educators fall into the trap of demanding that students
think, not for themselves, but only in prescribed and approved wayss,
and never of proscribed or inconvenient subjects.

Bill Horne
Temporary Moderator

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Re: Cyber bullying, freespeech, home computer use article [telecom]
On Jan 23, 2:09 pm, hanco...@bbs.cpcn.com wrote:

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My public high school had many kids who attended parochial school.
They often wrote negative essays about their experiences, which in
those days included physical punishment.  Questioning the nuns was not
tolerated.  However, in college we also had many kids from parochial
schools and they were very well prepared for college studies.  (While
my college was non-sectarian, it had an informal relationship with the
Church and welcomed and encouraged students from area parochial
schools.)

As to freedom of speech for youth, my own opinion is that it depends
on the ownership.  The school 'owns' the student newspaper and as such
the school is the publisher and has a legitimate veto power over
anything in the paper, just as the owner of a regular newspaper can
veto any submitted article.  The same would apply to computer networks
administered by the school.

As to off-school publications, that is different.  If a kid prints up
a leaflet at his own expense and distributes it off school grounds
(say at the corner of the school), then the kid has a right of free
speech, subject to the same limtiations of libel/slander/obscenity/
yell fire in a crowded theatre that other publications must comply
with.

Likewise with off-school computer networks.  While I don't like teen
bullying and know it can be extremely viscious and devastating,
private networks are private and I don't think the school should have
say whatsoever on what is said.

HOWEVER, such networks should be subject to the same libel/slander/
obscenity/yell fire laws of other publications.  If one kid posts
nasty slanderous stuff about another kid, the victim should have a
right to sue for slander/libel.  That means the host of the network
has to provide the real identity of the posters and take reasonable
steps to insure it's the real person.  Otherwise, the network ought to
be responsible; after the all, the network is providing the forum for
the abuse to take place.  (I don't buy the 'post a note on a tree in
the park' theory of immunity.)

I think a big motivation of schools to interfere with private networks
is the lack of control these networks have, and that IS a legitimate
concern.

***** Moderator's Note *****

It's much easier to say "No" than it is to say "It's OK, provided
...". Public and parochial schools both have an obligation to teach
their students how to complain about what irks them: with respect,
without name calling, and in the open. I don't think people should be
encouraged to put a note on a tree, but I _do_ feel that they should be
entitled to take a soapbox to the park and stand up and say what's on
their minds.

The best cure for rumor and gossip is, as they say, fresh air. Does
the high school principle dislike criticism? The students are allowed
to point it out. Does the math teacher disdain calculators? The
student should (pun intended) call her to account. Does the Board of
Selectmen underfund the school and force parents to pay for pens,
pencils, paper, and even books? A student who calls that sort of
cheating "shortsighted", "reckless", or "criminal" is exercising his
rights.

It goes without saying that children need limits and direction, but
too many parents have neglected this disdainful task and have allowed
their offspring to get their view of the world from television, where
all problems are solved in sixty minutes with time out for
commercials, where the tall white guy makes all the decisions, and
where guns are an accepted means of solving disagreements. We all know
that that is wrong, but very few are willing to step forward and
declare their view of what is right.

In a perfect world, the Parent Teacher Associations would be a vehicle
for the parents and the teachers to talk frankly about, and hopefully
agree on, a standard of behavior that all children could be expected
to follow in the community where they live. The problem is that we've
all gotten so scared of criticism that we've forgotten that such a
moral baseline is needed, indeed essential. Educators have been forced
to promulgate rules about off-campus behavior because parents are
either too busy, or too lazy, to tell junior to stop behaving like a
spoiled brat.

Children are left without guidance, without standards, without
discipline, and bullying and gangs and pitiable academic performance
are the result. _SOMEONE_ has to say *ENOUGH!*, and you and I have
allowed public servants and private school employees to take on that
task.

Bill Horne
Temporary Moderator

Please put [Telecom] at the end of your subject line, or I may never
see your post! Thanks!

We have a new address for email submissions: telecomdigestmoderator
atsign telecom-digest.org. This is only for those who submit posts via
email: if you use a newsreader or a web interface to contribute to the
digest, you don't need to change anything.


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