Five weeks into the 2012-2013 school year, Student Moderator Gerard Kissel said that the administration has dealt with issues related to cyber-bullying “more often than we want.”
Kissel said, “We see technology as a tool to help educate our students.” He added that when students use it for other purposes, such as Facebook or Twitter, problems arise.
Some students think that they cannot get in trouble with the school for what is on their personal media sites, but they can if they are representing McNicholas in a negative way. This would include a posted picture of a student wearing a McNicholas shirt while engaging in something inappropriate. Kissel wants students to remember that “you’re a McNicholas student 24/7.”
The McNicholas rules cover everything from proper use to preventing cyber-harassment. The McNicholas handbook states, “Any form of cyber-bullying will not be tolerated.” The handbook also says that, “Students may not use social media sites to publish disparaging or harassing remarks about McNicholas community members, athletic or academic contest rivals, etc.”
Violation of the rules can lead to consequences for McNick students. Kissel said that for serious violations, such as a threat, he would call law enforcement. Even if something does not violate a law, but it does violate the handbook or acceptable use policy, McNicholas will address it.
In addition to the McNicholas rules, individual social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, have their own policies. Twitter has rules in place regarding impersonation, privacy, violence and threats, and unlawful use. In regard to impersonation it says, “You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others.”
Facebook also has policies against cyber-bullying. On their community standards page they say that they will allow people to have free speech, but “take action on all reports of abusive behavior directed at private individuals.”
These rules are in place to protect all users and because posting something on the Internet is permanent. Director of Educational Technology, Ms. Katie Ritter, said, “Once it’s out there, it’s out there.” She added, “If you wouldn’t want to have to explain it to your grandparents don’t put it out there.”