Teens Suspended For Tweeting About Teacher
Five teens in Brampton, Ontario were suspended for tweeting allegedly disparaging remarks about their science teacher.
The tweets were sent on their private time and off of school property. When the Catholic school heard about the tweets, nine girls received varying levels of punishment with five of them being suspended. (The tweets were between friends, which makes them less public to the entire world but visible to anyone who followed both sides of the conversation.)
The principal said that she hopes everyone learned a lesson from this incident.
I, for one, find the lesson a little confusing. Twitter is a public medium and you have to be careful what you say about a person in a public medium. And kids do need to learn the difference between texting and tweeting. But this was most likely a case of teens being teens as opposed to an attempt by a group of mean girls to do a character assassination.
As Jesse Brown noted in his column at Maclean's, "Media: Let's humiliate some teens for tweeting about their teacher", the media interest in this story is totally over the top. In a few minutes, he was able to dig up the names of the girls as well as the offending Twitter conversation. He decided not to link to any of the girls or their tweets because it was it was "wildly inappropriate for me to be reading any of it, and I want to spare you the icky feelings I now have for having creeped."
And in the end he asks a very good question about our role as readers and media in pursuing this story about a group of teen girls who made a mistake:
These kids erred by exposing their teacher to public abuse in front of a small group of their peers. Now they have in turn been as good as exposed themselves, by their own educators and by the media, to a potential audience of millions.
So who’s the cyberbully now?
As Twitter becomes more popular with teens looking for forums to express themselves, issues like these will continue to crop up. And as someone who spends a lot (too much?) of time on Twitter, I see how easy it is for a comment about a person to go awry. I wonder how school boards and the media are going to handle them moving forward. Better than this I hope.
Do you think the teens deserve to be suspended? Do you think the media coverage has been over-the-top?
Want more chaos? Remember when two kids destroyed their house with a bag of flour and were on every TV show imaginable? No, me neither. #Internetfame