A survey by British principals found teachers fear Facebook more than they fear official schools inspectors, with 20 percent having received online abuse or threats. It's just the latest evidence that people turn into Facebook maniacs when school is involved.
The British National Association of Head Teachers called Facebook a "devastating" threat to school morale, according to a study quoted by All Facebook, and said the social network is becoming a bigger teacher fear than Ofsted, the dreaded government school inspection agency. "Increasingly, social media are being used to fuel campaigns against schools and teachers," the association's general secretary said.
No kidding. In fact, Facebook is touching off amazingly insane situations involving teachers, students and basically anyone ever associated with a school. Here's a very partial summary of the more recent craziness:
- An investigation was launched by an English high school after a teacher uploaded to Facebook pictures of herself on vacation in a bikini, and once with smeared lipstick. OMG a teacher in a bathing suit! Protect the children immediately.
- Regional authorities in Australia investigated a high school teacher who uploaded to Facebook a fairly tame looking picture of herself in a schoolgirl outfit. She's friends with no current students, but they might have heard about these non naked pictures in which their teacher looked sexy!
- Two Indiana high school students were suspended from the Volleyball team and cheerleading for a year after uploading to Facebook pictures of themselves in lingerie and clowning around with "phallic shaped" lollipops, during the summer, in connection with no school related activities. A federal judge eventually overturned the suspension on constitutional grounds.
- A "Student Protection Act" recently proposed in the Missouri legislature would forbid teachers from "friending" students. Because all teacher-student communication on Facebook is sexual predation
- Six Nevada middle school students created an "Attack a Teacher Day" event on Facebook, posting names of specific teachers they planned to go after. Jesus.
- A Brooklyn elementary school teacher recently Facebooked about wanting to see one of her students drown at the beach.
- Over on the Twitters, a mom angry at Trinity School in Manhattan spread wild accusations about how students were forced into psychotherapy and how the school committed tax fraud. Seven different news outlets tried and failed to substantiate her allegations.
- An Orlando high school teacher of the year told his Facebook friends that gay marriage made him want to barf.
Obviously, kids have been making adults crazy for a long time, and schools have been making parents crazy for a long time, and teenagers have been crazy for a long time, etc. But there is no reason this combustible mix needs to go nuclear on Facebook, of all places. The hysterical overreactors need to realize that the stakes are way, way lower on the imaginary world of social networking than in actual physical classrooms, while the abusers need to realize they will get zero real empowerment by bitching on Facebook, along with a whole lot of potential trouble. The best way for parents and teachers to teach kids about priorities is to start treating Facebook like a very low one, and chill out.
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