Here’s one way to deal with the scourge of online bullying: Expel students who don’t delete their Facebook accounts.
That’s the preferred strategy of Leonie Hultgren, a no-nonsense primary school principal in Queensland, Australia.
Hultrgren’s plan only targets students who are under 13 years old, which is also the minimum age required to sign up for Facebook. It’s easy (and common) for kids to fake their birth date on the social network, however, which creates a conundrum for the school and exposes the kids to bullying and other real-life dangers.
"As many of the parents in the (senior) class would testify, there has been some considerable Facebook traffic that either bullies a child of this school or in some cases denigrates some staff and the school,” Hultgren wrote in an open letter to the students’ parents. “Either of these circumstances warrant the school becoming involved.”
Cyber-safety experts in Australia are cheering the decision, The Age reported. But Steven Troeth, a legal adviser to Melbourne schools, worried it’s a step too far. "'You won't come to our school if you have a Facebook page' seems to me to be extending beyond the realms of the school's ability to dictate what students can and can't do at home," Troeth said.
The reaction from parents was predictably over-the-top: “You could not print the response to the principal that some of the mothers wrote on Facebook," a former police officer who advised Hultgren on the decision told The Age.
But why not print them? Surely, the kids have already seen all their parents’ vulgar Facebook posts.
Photo by Christian Haugen