Thursday, January 24, 2013

What is the extent of the school-student relationship?

As a local Principal warns students over social media comments, students, educators, and commentators are gearing up to spew vitriol at one another over a few comments made on social media, of the sort children usually make about adults that have been left to supervise them. While a few of the comments made are genuinely legally actionable, the vast majority of negative comments made by students about teachers are drivel without any real significance even as defamation of character.

Be that as it may, schools are calling for social media usage policies.

Hmm... it raises an interesting question; a few, actually:

  • Do public schools, as government endeavours, have the ability to censor, monitor, control, or otherwise limit student messages on social media, and if yes,
  • Would such policies apply to students who are not at school, and, if yes,
  • What other policies should apply to students at all times?
The first question is possibly the most critical, since government agencies are proscribed from making laws which abridge the freedom of speech. While the constitution does contain a Non-Compliance Clause, the uses of that clause are limited and such acts would be subject to review every five years. However... do those restrictions apply only to laws, or to all government policies? Certainly, many government employees are on Non-Disclosure Agreements, which would amend the same rights that allow for the use of social media. So... let's suppose such a policy isn't unconstitutional.

Your next problem is that students aren't that likely to use these services at the school - unless they feel like having their electronics confiscated or their network access rights revoked. This sort of cyber-bullying-style behaviour usually takes place after hours. Having school policies - even ones that are largely agreeable, apply when students are not in school is a sticky area for me. While I'm all for character education, citizenship/leadership courses, and all the rest of it, programs affecting your behaviour after class are largely voluntary.

Should we draw the line at social media policies? How about dress codes? Standards of behaviour?


  1. Just leave them to be what they are, and let them taste the karma when they grew up. Experiencing it personally is the greatest way to learn.

  2. freedom of speech does not mean you can say stuffs which may offend people and get away with it.

    1. "That's offensive" is a mindkiller, it's the little death that comes in small doses. Taken often enough, it closes the mind.

  3. Dont you think this country is going too left wing, when they put regulation, they always argue that, "its against constitution, its against freedom of speech, blah blah blah, I can insult your however much I want and get away with it, if you dont like it and try to go against it, you are a right wing fascist, blah blah blah"

    1. In this case, it is actually is counter to the constitution.

      I think this country is becoming too politically ignorant when we can refer to the wings themselves as a way to make an argument, rather than adressing the points themselves.