It’s a brave new world, moms and dads! Especially if you happen to live in Illinois. As of January 1, the Illinois
Legislature passed what is called the Right to Privacy in the School Setting
Act. In direct opposition to its name,
the law enables school districts and universities within the state to request full access to the social media accounts of students who are suspected of
breaching behavior codes or internal disciplinary policies that prevent or
disrupt the educational process.
As could be expected, students are calling foul. They claim that the law condones an invasion of privacy. This Illinois mom disagrees and I’ll tell you why. The Internet isn’t private. Nothing on the Internet, including social
media accounts, should ever have the expectation of being private.
As a parent of young children, I worry about teaching our
little ones that personal rights are somehow more sacred than the well-being and
overall functioning of the greater society that we all are a part of. I feel like this “me over them” mentality is
polluting our sense of community, and I wonder what the consequences of that
might be for our children.
Pffft, but what do I know? I’m just a bleeding heart liberal who wants to raise kids who exercise
empathy and compassion.
It might seem crazy that I am not too concerned with the laws or legality in question here, but to me, a mother, it seems fairly cut and dried.
With my bleeding heart in mind, and for those of you whose
hearts don’t weep blood, let’s break this down. The new law is specific to social media, key word being "social." Anything posted on social media is meant to
be seen, despite what privacy settings our kids think are in place. If a child is suspected of breaching school
policy or harming/bullying/baiting other students with his or her actions, I
see no issue with social media content being used to confirm that, just as it
would in any investigation of wrongdoing.
It might seem crazy that I am not too concerned with the
laws or legality in question here, but to me, a mother, it seems fairly cut and dried. If a child engages in bullying
behavior and there is evidence of that behavior that exists online, especially
if that child is using the Internet to further their bullying reach, well then,
that child needs consequences. Period.
Children need limits and consequences.
Our tolerance towards bullying is challenged and any message
those in authority send about bullying is confused and compromised when a
child, be they 8 or 18, can shield their poor behavior in plain view under the
guise of privacy. "I want to torment
this peer in private, damn you, for all my friends to see just what a badass I
am!" is, in essence, what that child’s argument is.
Children need limits and consequences. As their parents, we are doing them no
service by working to protect them when they are engaging in behavior that is
wrong or harmful to another, as bullying behaviors are. If a child is using social media to engage in
those behaviors, we should not protect them under the guise of privacy. Wrong is wrong, and if kids put it out there,
they should prepare to meet those limits and consequences they so clearly need. It seems pretty simple to this Illinois