Teachers In Missouri Banned From Being Facebook Friends With Students

 

Students and teachers have had a rough time navigating the new world of social media together.  For every advantage that students receive from having more access to help and counsel via chat groups, online tutoring and immediate email feedback from their peers and mentors, teachers and students also walk a dangerous line where they could become “too personally involved,” at least in cyberspace.  And without constant outside supervision to ensure all interaction is “proper,” who knows what could happen?

At least, that appears to be the argument behind a new bill signed into law by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, that bans “student-teacher friendships” on social networks, like Facebook at twitter.  The law, intended to keep personal interaction at an absolute minimum to ensure all relationships are entirely professional and public, can be seen as a reasonable step to protect student safety and teacher jobs in some circles.  But others complain that the vagueness of the language of the law makes it unclear what actually counts as a violation.

The law forbids any online interaction between “teachers and current or former students”  on any system that allows private messages. But does “students” refer to anyone in your class?  Or your school?  Or anyone in  any classroom at any school?   Does former mean students you used to teach, and if so, for how long?  And how does this apply to twitter, where often people aren’t even sure totally sure of the names and identities of everyone who follows them?

It’s an interesting question.  Based on the broad definitions in the bill, there are teachers in my high school who could be accused of violating a similar ban if there was one, by friending me on Facebook — even though I haven’t seen many of them in person in over about 15 years.

There arguably are very few advantages to a teacher allowing current students access to his or her facebook profile.  But having a law that prohibits it likely isn’t the answer, either.  In an attempt to make the language as broad as possible, Missouri instead has written a law that will do little to really stifle inappropriate student/teacher behavior while setting up barriers that may not really be necessary.

 

Related Stories:

School Districts Struggle With Social Media Policy

Not Smart: Teachers Mock Elementary School Students on Facebook

6 Girls Arrested For Facebook Attack-A-Teacher Day

photo credit: wikimedia commons

89 comments

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran7 years ago

Thanks.

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Zoe B.
Zoe B7 years ago

It IS possible to be friends with your kids. It's your DUTY.
Look at all the young suicides, and kiling sprees. Do you mean to tell me that banning kids from having friends is the answer.Young people need someone to turn to for reassurance, and for advice. Otherwise they are driven to this. People expext a parent to be a parent, but, in many cases, the folks at home don't have ime, and a lot of kids would depend on a teacher for guidance.

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Zoe B.
Zoe B7 years ago

It IS possible to be friends with your kids. It's your DUTY.
Look at all the young suicides, and kiling sprees. Do you mean to tell me that banning kids from having friends is the answer.Young people need someone to turn to for reassurance, and for advice. Otherwise they are driven to this. People expext a parent to be a parent, but, in many cases, the folks at home don't have ime, and a lot of kids would depend on a teacher for guidance.

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Maarja L.
Maarja L7 years ago

I don't have a facebook account, but my brother has, and he has his maths teacher as a friend there. Haven't seen anything bad happening because of that. Yes, facebook can be used for cyber-bullying, but... former students should be allowed to friend their teachers. Common sense should be used.

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Rosemary Graf
Rosemary Graf7 years ago

There is such a fine line between friendship and unhealthy relationships on line. Facebook makes it even more finer.

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Norma V.
Norma Villarreal7 years ago

If it is a former student, be sure they have graduated and are closer to 21 if there is communication and 'friendship' on Facebook. Keep boundaries clear.

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Mary Ann F.
Mary F7 years ago

I think it would just be creepy for a teacher to "friend" a student while that student is still in school. I overheard one of my seniors say that one of the teachers at our school had "looked at her Facebook page." I'm not sure how that is done but the student was a little disturbed by it. It's kind of like eavesdropping, isn't it?

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Patrick F.
Patrick f7 years ago

The really sad part of all this is how easily corrupted we humans are. Whatever good you can find in this world, there will be someone to ruin it for everyone.

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clara H.
Clara Hamill7 years ago

I'm for this law I live in Missouri and I can see allowing the student to friend the teacher when they are out of that school. Like a middle school kid can friend their teacher when they are in high school if they wish. When they are adults they should be able to friend who they want.

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Beverly G.
bev g7 years ago

yep agree, the 2 dont mix.

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