[vet-mm] tricky situation

Greg Neil (Mr) greg at stmargarets.vic.edu.au
Tue Apr 22 17:26:44 EST 2008

I would agree that the punishment seems to be a severe over-reaction, assuming there are no other circumstances in influence.

As for being able to prevent it - simple answer is you cannot. Students carry some many devices that have cameras now - phones, laptops, etc. that it is impossible to monitor what photographs are taken where, and how they are subsequently used.

What we did do was get a representative from the Victorian Police who specialises in cyber stalking, pedophile tracking and social networking sites and it's ills to come and talk about it with parents. The woman that spoke to staff first, and then parents in a second session, was very good, had some great insights into the problem and things to be aware of, and didn't shy away from telling the parents that they had a role to play in this as well.

We block access to face book, myspace. etc through the school intranet, but know full well that we cannot (and I believe should not) control what the students do outside school hours. Attempts to circumvent these blocks can result in punishment, but once the student leaves the school grounds, the school has no role in policing their behaviour.

In your case, a discussion regarding the responsibility of the student with regards to the privacy of others, a warning about the dangers of posting identifying information on social networks sites, and perhaps a threat of punishment for a repeat offense would have been, to me a least, a more appropriate response.

-----Original Message-----
From: vet-mm-bounces at edulists.com.au on behalf of Jeanean Pritchard
Sent: Tue 4/22/2008 4:58 PM
To: VET Multimedia Teachers' Mailing List
Subject: [vet-mm] tricky situation
Hello all,
I've just had a tricky situation arise here and I'm keen for your
opinions/thoughts or accounts of similar incidents.
During one of my multimedia classes, a student of mine took a
photograph of herself and one of her friends as part of a classroom
task. Later that evening in her own home, she placed it onto her own
facebook page. 
The controversy is that in the background of the photograph, there was
another student wearing his school uniform, logo clearly showing. That
student's parent got wind of the photo, and made a formal (and quite
vocal) complaint to our school.
As a result, my student (the photographer) was placed on a type of
school suspension, very close to being formally suspended from school.
She was also asked to remove the photograph from her site.
I agree this is an issue. I'm not really sure how it should be dealt
with, or what our legal obligations are to our parents or our students.
I understand why the parent was concerned, and I'm not sure how we can
police our students like this outside of school hours. How much of the
world can we really control? I was very disappointed about the
punishment given to my student. She would never intentionally hurt
anyone. She has a very near perfect behaviour record for the four years
she has been enrolled. She was mortified to be in such serious trouble.
She took her punishment without complaint. Thankfully my student also
had her mother's support. Her mother did not approach the school at all,
but did quietly confide in her daughter that she believed she had
intended no evil and not to worry about it.
I know that something must happen, and the school must find a place to
stand on this issue. In this case I believe a stern warning/talk would
have been more appropriate. My school is currently debating about this
issue, and trying to form some sort of policy. I'm interested to hear if
anything similar has happened to anyone else, or what
policies/procedures your schools have in place when an issue like this
Jeanean Pritchard
Highview College
jpritchard at highview.vic.edu.au 


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