Educational Editorial: Teachers and social media

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia Board of Education has proposed guidelines to address misconduct between teachers and students. While the intent is clearly to address potential sexual behavior…abuse, they may have inadvertently missed the messenger and hit the medium.

A teacher's license can only be revoked by the Virginia Board of Education…reasons can include "moral turpitude" and "immorality." In the past 10 years the Board has taken action on 169 teacher licenses with 120 of them involving unacceptable behavior with minors.

The Board's new guidelines propose that teachers should not communicate with students through social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace.

They also suggest that teachers should not send "text" messages to students… AND …while spontaneous hugs may be acceptable with elementary students, teachers should not hug teenagers.

First, students know the difference between a hug of empathy and one of intimacy…and adults know it as well. No policy can oblige what common sense offers for free.

Secondly, should we prohibit telephone conversations…or notes…if the medium is used to abuse? More than 500 million people are members of Facebook…this genie is not going back in the bottle. Texting and emails are digital conversations…as impersonal as they may be.

Clearly it must be conceded that social media can be dangerous tools; however, it is the behavior of the abuser and not the medium of delivery that should be addressed. If not, the answer to road fatalities is to eliminate cars.

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