Part of new Missouri law SB54 makes it illegal for teachers and students to be friends on any social network where private communication is available, including Facebook and Twitter. The law was initially passed last month with a lot of support because it was seen as a way to stop “passing the trash.” This is in reference to teachers who have had inappropriate interactions with students, are forced to quietly resign, but are then just hired by a different school.
Signed by Governor Jay Nixon, the law definitely raises two different viewpoints. In an NPR interview with Randy Turner, an 8th grade English teacher from Joplin, MO, Turner expresses his opposition to the law. He says that part of teachers’ jobs “is to reach out to students and that means going where they are now,” which, nowadays, means social networks. He also believes that the new law is actually negatively affecting kids as opposed to protecting them, staying “we may be preventing them from talking to the very people who may be able to help.” Finally, Turner – and probably many other teachers – feels that the law unfairly implies that children need to be protected from their teachers.
This law highlights the gray area between who kids should and shouldn’t friend online. There are valid points for both sides of this particular argument, but ultimately – law or no law – parents should be actively monitoring and talking to their kids about their social networking activities in order to keep them safe online.
What do you think about this new law? Do you think it unfairly implies that teachers are dangerous, or do you think it’s reasonable for students and teachers to keep their online lives separate?