I don't think anyone aside from a cyberbully would argue that cyberbullying is bad. It can cause serious trauma for the bullied kid. And because it happens online it isn't confined to school, but can reach right into your home.
Parents, kids and schools need to work together to stop bullying in any form. However, some schools might be going a bit too far.
A law that went into effect this year in Illinois allows schools to demand students hand over social media account passwords. The only thing the school needs is suspicion that the account was used to bully another student, even if the bullying was done outside of school hours and off school grounds.
Actually, the language of the law says the student just has to violate school policy. While schools are focused on bullying right now, I don't doubt they could come up with other reasons to demand passwords in the future.
As a parent, this raises a number of concerns. The big one is that if anyone is going to be monitoring my kid's social accounts for trouble, it's going to be me. If I want to involve the school, I'll do it on my terms.
I know there are parents who aren't as involved in their kids' lives, or don't understand the Internet well enough to keep tabs on them, but the solution isn't to bypass the parents.
Plus, what is the school going to do with the password? If it's a matter of seeing what the kid posted, the bullied child can provide a screenshot.
Is the school going to take over the account so the bully can't post anymore? The kid will just start a new one or two.
Are they going to have someone go through the entire account looking for signs of other rule breaking? That's a serious violation of the student's privacy.
Let's not forget that most the social accounts kids are using are ones that most adults don't realize they're on. Click here to see what I mean.
Frankly, schools aren't equipped to deal with kids online. When the L.A. school district handed out iPads to every school child, it took the kids a day to get around the content restrictions the school had put up. The district had to abandon the program at a substantial financial loss.
I applaud what the school is trying to do, but this seems like a serious overreach. What do you think? Would you let a school poke through your kid or grandkid's social accounts? Let me know in the comments.