Home > capstone, education > It Could Happen Anywhere

It Could Happen Anywhere

I’ve been following the story about the bullying at South Hadley high school that led to the eventual suicide of one of its students.  Like most people, when the story first broke I was stunned.  I still am.  I live near South Hadley.  It’s not the sort of place you expect this kind of thing to happen.  But then again, nowhere is.

That’s why this week, as we explore issues of Netiquette and Internet safety in my Capstone course, what happened in South Hadley hangs in my thoughts. I keep coming back to one question. With the pressure to improve student performance in academic areas, who is teaching our children Internet safety?  In my district the assumption is that it’s being taught by the technology teacher in elementary school, but I have students who don’t know the first thing about Internet safety.  I teach 8th grade.  Because I want my students to interact with each other online, I do cover the basics with them. Hopefully from me they learn not to give out personal information, that people aren’t always what they seem, and that it’s their right to be treated with respect, not just in the “real” classroom, but in our virtual classroom too.

Unfortunately, I don’t teach all of the students in my school, let alone my district.  I can share my knowledge and advocate for change, but I am coming to the conclusion that I need to do more.  I need to push my administrator, school committee, superintendent, whomever needs the prodding to make it a mandatory part of every curriculum to introduce and review online safety strategies each year.

Some of my students are reading Alice Sebold’s novel, The Lovely Bones.  In his comments one of my students wrote about how the main character’s decision to go with her neighbor led to her eventual death.  He said, “these decisions may have been influenced because of the decade this story takes place (1970’s), and nowadays children are taught at a very young age to avoid these sorts of things.  So, if this story took place in our present decade, Alice Sebold would have had to find another way for Mr. Harvey to somehow trick Susie into being raped and murdered.”

Mr. Harvey could meet Susie online.

Categories: capstone, education
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