I am really beginning to think that we need to add classes on how not to use Facebook into our middle school curriculum. Two stories I read today caused me to pause and ask myself if people really do not understand how posting inflammatory remarks on Facebook can cause them problems down the road.
The first story was about a teacher in Brooklyn, New York who posted about her unruly 5th grade class last June on her Facebook page. She posted, “After today, I’m thinking the beach is a good trip for my class. I hate their guts.” The day before, a 12 year old Harlem girl had drowned at a trip to the beach. Christine Rubino, who has taught at the same school for the past 15 years and has a master’s degree in math education, also replied “No, I wouldn’t for a million dollars,” when asked by a fellow Facebook friend, “Wouldn’t you throw a life jacket to little Kwami?”
A fellow teacher and Facebook friend copied her remarks and shared them with the school administration. To make matters worse, Rubino apparently lied and indicated that a friend had access to her Facebook and posted the remarks. Rubino is accused of “conduct unbecoming a teacher” and witness tampering. Rubino was removed from the classroom last month and there is a Department of Education hearing pending. The New York DOE did fire three teachers last year for improper contact with students on Facebook.
Monday night in Madison, Wisconsin, 15 people (mostly teenage girls and women) were involved in a confrontation which erupted into a street brawl after someone posted a 13 year old girls picture side by side with a large young actress’ photo on Facebook. The actress is Gabourey Sidibe from the movie Precious. Derogatory comments were also made about the 13 year old girl on Facebook. The two teens started fighting in the street and in the end two adult women and three teenage girls were cited for disorderly conduct.
I also can’t forget about the student who was suspended for calling his teacher fat on Facebook that we did a story about last month.
Recently my 25 year old son was pretty surprised when he did a search on the internet of his own name. He has his Facebook page pretty locked down and his settings all on private but he realized that any comments he made on friend’s pages that had opened walls came up in the search. Even though he was not embarrassed by what he wrote, he spent some time following all of the links and deleting his comments from their walls. Smart move on his part. A prospective employer might not find the humor in an inside joke or understand a comment made in fun.
I love Facebook. It has been a great tool for me to keep in touch with family and friends and to reconnect with some old friends. Facebook is not the issue….it is the people using it. However, I do really think that middle school age kids would benefit from some dialogue on the consequences of misusing Facebook.
Do you have any stories you would like to share about how the actions of someone on Facebook has impacted their lives or others?