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US Ed Dept Demanding Principals Censor More 493

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticks-and-stones dept.
Toe, The writes "Education Department officials are threatening school principals with lawsuits if they fail to monitor and curb students' lunchtime chat and evening Facebook time for expressing ideas and words that are deemed to be harassment of some students. Under the new interpretation of civil rights laws, principals and their schools are legally liable if they fail to curb 'harassment' of students, even if it takes place outside the school, on Facebook or in private conversation. When children are concerned, where is the line between protection and censorship?"
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US Ed Dept Demanding Principals Censor More

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  • Ludicrous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:27AM (#35513848)

    On the one hand we teach kids about the Constitution and Bill of Rights. On the other hand, we tell them "Hey johhny - what you say can get you in trouble if you make fun of that fat kid in the playground...

    Whatever happened to "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?" Have we become such a bunch of pussies that we can't even deal with having people call us bad names? What ever happened to "hey - here's two pairs of boxing gloves - go behind the gym and work it out?"

    And finally, doesn't the Dept of Ed have ANYTHING else to deal with besides this BS?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Whatever happened to "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?"

      I want to put an early Godwin in this thread: Hitler happened. The nastiest people don't hurt anyone directly. They merely influence people's opinion.

      The US has the most powerful propaganda machine on the planet. Do you discount this entirely? Is the brain not just another organ which can be trained in a particular direction?

      What ever happened to "hey - here's two pairs of boxing gloves - go behind the gym and work it out?"

      Are you serious? The solution to bullies is to get physically fit and beat them up? Self-defence is entirely acceptable [dailymotion.com], but corporal punishment is not justice.

      • I want to put an early Godwin in this thread: Hitler happened. The nastiest people don't hurt anyone directly. They merely influence people's opinion.

        The US has the most powerful propaganda machine on the planet. Do you discount this entirely? Is the brain not just another organ which can be trained in a particular direction?

        What does that have to do with not being offended by mere words and responding to the situation logically?

        I do agree with your second point, though. I believe that initiating violence is idiotic.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          What does that have to do with not being offended by mere words and responding to the situation logically?

          How do you logically respond to Hitler? Do you note that he has not killed anyone with his own hands and ask him nicely to step aside for a friendly chat? If he ignores you, do you just shrug and let him carry on? Do you tell his victims that he's an insane little man and that, if you're not standing up to him, you're just weak?

          Most verbal bullies aren't powerful because they call you names. They're powerful because they influence others' behaviour toward their victim. If you take aside the grunt who throws

          • How do you logically respond to Hitler?

            By analyzing what he is saying and either accepting or dismissing it based on its truth value (and recognizing mere opinions). Do not be so easily influenced by words.

            Most verbal bullies aren't powerful because they call you names.

            They're not powerful at all. It's just that others are weak-minded. Also, many weak-minded people are affected emotionally (in the negative sense) by words, which was partly was I was speaking of.

            They're powerful because they influence others' behaviour toward their victim.

            This is also what I was speaking of. This shouldn't happen, obviously. If it does, too bad. People shouldn't be so easily influenced (emotionally or

            • People shouldn't be so easily influenced (emotionally or otherwise) by mere words.

              Alternative reality fallacy. People are easily influenced by words. You're essentially saying that the problem is that we've evolved wrongly and that our brains should be perfectly rational (and by your definition of rational). Who will strike the first blow to eliminate this imperfect species and all similarly behaving primates, and replace it with yours?

              Anyway, the influence may benefit the influenced. Many people have a better life at school thanks to being one of the bully grunts. Perhaps the "weak-mind

            • by jbolden (176878)

              By analyzing what he is saying and either accepting or dismissing it based on its truth value (and recognizing mere opinions). Do not be so easily influenced by words.

              There is well over $1T industry called the advertising industry that exists because humans are highly influenced by other's opinions, much moreso than they realize and admit to. That strategy does not work against prolonged attack.

          • The former(ya right) political wing of the IRA has gotten people elected into the dail and various positions of power in northern ireland.
            They've scaled back because the catholics/republicans in the north are being treated like crap less.
            Giving them a voice cut down on the violence, the exact opposite of your insane claims.

            You respond to hitler by not supporting him and by speaking out against him, not by shooting him.
            that just creates a martyr to his cause and a replacement arises out of the cesspool that

            • by mwvdlee (775178)

              I know I probably shouldn't respond, but I'll do it anyway:

              You respond to hitler by not supporting him and by speaking out against him, not by shooting him.

              Given this particular person, shooting might have been the best option.
              The reason is that Hitler's rise to political power was mainly due to his individual character traits; he had a very charismatic personality with verbal/presentation skills to match. A large part of his party's power was due to this single person. Had he been shot, the party would have had much weaker leadership and either would not have pushed it's views quite as extremely as it

    • Re:Ludicrous (Score:4, Interesting)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:38AM (#35513900)

      On the one hand we teach kids about the Constitution and Bill of Rights. On the other hand, we tell them "Hey johhny - what you say can get you in trouble if you make fun of that fat kid in the playground...

      To be fair, they'll face the same thing when they get jobs and try to use facebook there.

      And finally, doesn't the Dept of Ed have ANYTHING else to deal with besides this BS?

      Maybe not with their budget? Saying "crack down on hate speech on facebook" probably doesn't cost as much as buying new textbooks.

      Whatever happened to "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?" Have we become such a bunch of pussies that we can't even deal with having people call us bad names? What ever happened to "hey - here's two pairs of boxing gloves - go behind the gym and work it out?"

      Joking aside, I hear what you're saying, but TFA points out the suicide rate among gay and lesbian students is 4 times that of straight students. I'm not saying that justifies trampling on free speech off school grounds, but saying "work it out" is a little simplistic.

    • Bashir: They broke seven of your transverse ribs and fractured your clavical.
      Garak: Ah, but I got off several cutting remarks which no doubt did serious damage to their egos.
      Bashir: Garak, this isn't funny.
      Garak: I'm serious, doctor! Thanks to your administrations I'm almost completely healed but the damage I did to them will last a lifetime.
      • by scdeimos (632778)
        I always thought it was "ministrations" as in the act of ministering care, aid, etc., but haven't seen DS9 in what, 20 years?
    • by Syberz (1170343)

      The "sticks and stones" thing is all well and good, but when you're socially awkward and get teased and made fun of publicly by multiple peers then it can really start to hurt. How often have we heard about kids attempting suicide or getting an eating disorder because of bullying?

      Now, do I think that it's the Department of Education's job to curb this nasty behavior outside of school walls? Hell no, that's what parents are for. But again, parenting seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird and everyone is

    • by FatSean (18753)

      Because you don't settle your differences with boxing gloves as adults. This website seems to have a very sharp bias. Seems to be catering to our new brand of know-nothings.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Whatever happened to "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?"

      Words will hurt you if other people happen to hear them and choose to act on those words.
      Coincidentally, comments on Facebook can be read by other people.

      What ever happened to "hey - here's two pairs of boxing gloves - go behind the gym and work it out?"

      I'm sure the physically strongest of the two has no problems with that solution.
      Usually, that is not the kid who was being threatened with physical violence by a bully.

    • by lionchild (581331)

      I would have to agree that this really is pretty ludicrous. Schools are concerned about bullying and cyber-bullying. However, they struggle with the tools and statutory authority to 'regulate' the cyber part of this. So, if Washington really wants them to police this, then they need to give them the funding and resources to do so. Not to mention indemnify them for the privacy they will violate to monitor facebook, cell phones, etc.

      No, if Facebook thinks this is a good idea, to make schools more accounta

  • Subject smubject! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:35AM (#35513888)
    What kids do outside of school, in their own time with their own equipment, is no business of the schools. It's down to the parents.

    Worked in (UK) education for 7 years. I offer advice and training to teachers to introduce safeguarding and online safety into the curriculum, and so far have positive feedback. What the kids do at home, however, isn't our business.
    • by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:40AM (#35513906)
      You made the fundamentally flawed assumption that parents want to raise their kids. They don't*, they want the government to do it and they want to bitch about what a bad job the government does too.

      * OK so there are plenty of parents that do raise their own kids, but this article not really about them.
    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      It's worth noting that it in fact has not worked all that well. UK ranks #1 in Western Europe in youth crime.

      • by omglolbah (731566)

        If you re-read his/her post you might notice that nowhere did he claim the advice and training was aimed at lowering youth crime rates.
        It is aimed at informing the students about the tools at their disposal for dealing with assbags online ;)

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          So, basically we should focus on fly on a wall and completely ignore the elephant in the room?

          • I'm saying that there are other people responsible for teaching students about responsible social behaviour, and that is tied in with and built upon with the advice I give. I am no expert in teaching a child to behave responsibly, or even in education, but I do know a lot about eSafety, and that's what I can advise on.

            You can't build a house with just a bricklayer.
    • by jpapon (1877296)
      The problem is that what they do outside of school comes into the school.

      Student A and student B don't interact outside of school. Student A posts slander about B on Facebook, outside of school. Students C through Z read said slander, and now the whole school believes it, and student B gets beat up by students D & F because they think B is gay. Ipso facto, what happened outside of school has now strongly affected what happens inside of school. Student A gets away with no punishment, because they didn'

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        Student A gets away with no punishment, because they didn't do the punching, they just instigated it.

        They don't get punished BY THE SCHOOL because they didn't do anything wrong AT SCHOOL. But they could be sued, or face criminal charges in the "real " world.

        It's not the school's place to punish students for what they do in their own time.

  • by mr100percent (57156) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:41AM (#35513916) Homepage Journal

    This strikes me as a profoundly bad idea. While we're delegating parental responsibility over to the principal (which is weird), are we also going to hold them accountable if the kids aren't vaccinated or eating healthy enough?

    • You may jest but....

      Here is the Government regulated food program [usda.gov] and I believe school health officials are permitted to give vaccines too. The local school district sends out flyers and pamphlets about early childhood vaccinations, why they're important and if you cant get them through your doctor that the school can provide them.

  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:45AM (#35513940) Homepage
    We keep on addressing effect after effect, when we need to be addressing the cause of the problems. Our problems don't stem from Facebook or music or video games, they come from the 'values' in our society. Our 'me first' attitude of competition is coming home to roost. Don't like bullying, well guess what, it's been taught to us from day one to 'win' and to kick someone when they're down so we can stay on top. From kids to corporate america to congress we need a values 'regime change'. Imagine what our country would be like if we were taught from day one to think of the other guy first.. and to help people succeed so that they can be around to help us when we're down. Negative reinforcement from the time we're kids to young adult hood to the workplace... and people wonder why everyone is always afraid these days. I think my boss summed it up for me one day when talking about the company.. he said "It's all punishment and no reward." seems like a fair assessment of our society.
    • by migla (1099771)

      And it's not just the values, of course, but also the fact that the society is very stratified. And the warmongering and the death penalty and the imprisonment of a comparatively large part of the population... All these things of course contribute to reinforce those values.

      And the lie that is the American Dream, that the US is the land of the free and the land of opportunity, that you can make it here if you just put your mind to it, will contribute to many a desperate poor soul. For some the opportunitie

  • by Kosi (589267) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:48AM (#35513956)

    When exactly did the USA remove the right of free speech from their constitution?

    • by Manip (656104) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:01AM (#35514038)
      1969. When free speech in schools could be curtailed if it "substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others." Since then it has been further limited. 1988, school newspapers censored, and 2007 suspending a student for wearing an offensive t-shirt OFF school premises.

      I think it is an interesting area for debate, particularly when state education is legally required. But then again I guess teachers need to have some level of control. I think the most controversial area is if school should have any input into what students do in their own time rather than the police.
    • by Anzya (464805)

      Children in USA has never had them in school. No rights, only obligations. It's an violation of Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 12. Stating that child has the right to express themselves. USA and Somalia is the only two countries within the UN that has not signed the agreement.

      Remember a story of a kid who got suspended for wearing a pepsi t-shirt in school during a photo op for Coca Cola. Might have been vice versa.
      Ain't that great though? We force you to participate and earn money of your f

      • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:11AM (#35514096) Homepage Journal

        Children as seen as a commodity and chattel in the U.S. I know this will get modded as "Troll" or something, but it has to be said. We don't really see children as human in the U.S. We certainly don't treat them as humans. Even in this thread you can see people see "teenagers" as a totally other species.

      • by Sique (173459)

        Germany didn't ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child yet. So it's not only the US and Somalia.

      • by moortak (1273582)
        We used to actually pretend to give kids rights. The Tinker case contained a pretty key quote on that issue. "First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. "
    • The erosion of rights rarely happens all at once, so it is difficult to pinpoint a "tipping point". The slow erosion allows it to happen virtually unnoticed. It's like when you get your brake pads replaced in your car and the next time you use the brakes you almost leave your seat because they work so much better...it is only at that moment that you realize just how bad the old ones were...but if you don't replace them you may not realize how bad it is until you wreck, and then you have much more immediat
  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:48AM (#35513958) Homepage Journal

    "Hello students, this is your principle seaking, I'd like to remind you that bullying will not be tolerated, in particular, calling Josh Smith a 'whiny little faggot' or 'a little bitch' because he complained about being bullied to school staff is not acceptable. Anyone seen beating him up after school behind the gym, which is out of line of sight from any teacher office, will be disciplined."

  • Whilst I agree whole-heartedly with the school being made responsible for stopping bullying (verbal or physical) during school time and on school grounds, they cannot realistically control what the children do outside of school. The only way to achieve this would be to change the rules by which FB operates. If you read FBs T-
    "No information from children under age 13. If you are under age 13, please do not attempt to register for Facebook or provide any personal information about yourself to us. .....
    Pare

    • I don't know that using credit cards for age verification would work anymore, since anyone can get a pre-paid Visa gift card. Those cards have numbers that follow the same format as the traditional bank cards. Unless there is some back-end database that can sort between gift card and non-gift card numbers, credit cards are worthless for age verification.
  • "If you are sending your children to public school that is tantamount to child abuse." - Neal Boortz. They certainly aren't learning any principles that our country stands for. But hey, say its for their own protection, throw the word "Columbine" out there and parents won't care.
  • They just passed a law which gives schools outrageous powers over students even in their own homes. Bullying is not such a simple issue. Young males often push each other to "buck up". That is to meet the mark, make the grade, ford the stream, beat the hazard or whatever. Name calling and a bit of pushing around are all part of this process. You see it when recruits go into military training. You certainly see it from both staff and students on football and other sports teams.

  • We have the right to say whatever we like about whoever we like. PERIOD. Schools and governments would do well to re-read the basic framework of our nation.
  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:37AM (#35514210)

    Or, alternatively, how about we teach them about how pointless and petty such things truly are? How about we teach them that words cannot hurt them unless they let themselves be 'hurt' by the words? Someone else's opinion of you matters little (no matter the amount of people that feel the same) and cannot actually harm you (unless they resorted to physical violence, in which case I would agree that intervention would be necessary). What we are doing is essentially placing them into a bubble that filters out everything that they don't wish to hear. They will never learn how pointless being offended by such things truly is, and when they are forced to leave that bubble, they will be lost. This is completely pointless and counterproductive if your goal is to raise a generation of free-thinking people who utilize logic in making their decisions, but from decisions such as this, I'm guessing that that isn't the goal at all.

    • No. You are absolutely, 100% wrong. Words do hurt. Maybe this is what your grandpa was taught in school, but it is simply not the case anymore. We are social creatures by our very nature. No matter how much we know we should not care about what others have to say about us, their words have an impact. This is particularly true of children who are beginning to develop their concept of self. While I agree that to a certain extent, people need to learn to deal with bullshit, they also need to learn that it is n
  • teenagers are mostly idiots. adults are mostly idiots, but at least they are fully legally accountable for their actions. teenager's actions are still a reflection of their parents, legally and logically, and so curtailment of their rights, according to their parent's wishes is good common sense. i don't think any RESPONSIBLE parent would have a problem with school admin monitoring and policing what their kids do while they are at work, and in fact, probably appreciate it

    unless everyone here wants to regist

  • Though not from the US this is nonsense mission creap. The Department of Education is
    unconstitutional, and uses up resources that would otherwise be available to support
    educarion.

    They constantly interfear with the running of schools and in the British system have taken
    a working system and destroyed it.

    Get rid of these people and leave harrasment to the police.
  • Can we request the US Ed Dept be censored more? Just saying...
  • This sounds like an un-funded, all-stick, no-carrot mandate, like NCLB. I imagine this will hasten the departure of good school administrators.

    Do you suppose that the Capitol Hill will allow schools to install Cell-Phone jamming technology to combat this sort of thing, keeping students off their cell phones during lunch and between classes? (I'm sure parents will be up in arms over something like that.)

    It takes a village to raise a child, which means more than the local school needs to be accountable for

  • by trburkholder (307597) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @08:19AM (#35514794) Homepage

    Oh for crying out loud. This is what passes for news at lame wannabe Tucker Carlson's attempt to mimic Politico? The guidance letter was published in October 2010 and you can read it here: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.html [ed.gov]

  • Tucker Carleson (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @08:26AM (#35514842) Homepage

    Let me just point out the "original article" here is pointing to a news editorial site run by Tucker Carlson. The actual website run by the government dealing with bullying is http://www.stopbullying.gov/ [stopbullying.gov]

    There is legislation pending in congress to make bullying more serious

    Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2010 - Amends title IV (Student Assistance) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require each institution of higher education (IHE) participating in a title IV program (except foreign schools) to include in its annual security report a statement of policy regarding harassment that includes: (1) a prohibition of harassment of students by other students, faculty, and staff; (2) a description of its programs to prevent harassment; (3) a description of the procedures that students should follow if harassment occurs; and (4) a description of the procedures it will follow once an incident of harassment has been reported. Defines "harassment" to include certain conduct undertaken through technological means that limits a student's ability to benefit from the IHE's programs, or creates a hostile or abusive educational environment at the school. Authorizes the Secretary of Education to award competitive grants to IHEs to initiate, expand, or improve programs to: (1) prevent the harassment of students; (2) provide counseling or redress services to students who have been harassed or accused of subjecting other students to harassment; and (3) train students, faculty, or staff to prevent harassment or address harassment if it occurs. Directs the Secretary to publish a report of best practices for combating harassment at IHEs.

    (Full Text: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s112-540 [govtrack.us])

  • There is no line. Children have (almost) no rights, only their parents have rights.

  • how much we *really* value freedom of expression.

  • Education Department officials need to get a grip on reality.
    I would like to see them follow 1 tweet , facebook and myspace accounts for one person, let alone the 600 or so students you can have in a small school. Then asking 1 person without adding to their budget for such things, is really stupid....it shows their level of computer comprehension...none, zero, zip, nada....they know absolutely nothing about what they are asking....and that is bad, especially that they make decisions about our school system

  • You don't teach a child to swim by teaching them how to avoid water.
    These kids are going to drown when the real world comes knocking on their door.
  • Raise your hand if you truly, sincerely believe that this will never be used to punish kids who gripe about their teachers or administration. After all, if Johnny tells his parents that Mrs. Smith is mean and picks on him, then he's clearly usurping her authority and disrupting her teaching and the school must put a stop to it.

    Remember, "it's for the kids" is always a lie. Always. Without exception.

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