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Bishop Ahr Students’ ‘Crush’ Tweets Prompt Legislation to Teach Kids Proper Use of Social Media [POLL]

Flickr User Andy Melton
Flickr User Andy Melton

With each and every passing day, there’s another story about how kids are turning to social media to express themselves in less than flattering terms.

Recently there was a story about a new trend, one which apparently started in Rutgers, where students would “tweet” their sexual intentions to others through a “tweet club”.

It’s since trickled down into the realm of high school.

According to this:

Now trending on Twitter: Students posting anonymous, embarrassing messages about their crushes.

It’s even caught on among students at Bishop George Ahr High School, part of the Catholic Diocese of Metuchen.

While many of the messages are friendly, some also illustrate the dangers of social media and how technology easily can become a tool for bullies, a South Jersey lawmaker said Thursday.

The “crush” accounts on Twitter encourage people to anonymously submit a message about a fellow student — or teacher — which is then posted on the Twitter account for the school and the whole world to see.

While the message authors are anonymous, their subjects are not.

The “BishopAhr Crushes” account (@BGAcrushes), which is no longer active, was launched April 16, two weeks after news that a similar account at Rutgers University in New Brunswick and Piscataway was being followed by more than 6,000 people.

Similar Twitter accounts have popped up around the country, including at Florida Gulf Coast University, Texas A&M University and Maryville College in Tennessee. None of the accounts are sanctioned by the schools.

“I am not posting anything mean and if it is I will DM (direct message) you and will post it with your permission. I ain’t cyberbullying,” the anonymous BishopAhr Crushes account insists in an April 17 post.

Nevertheless, the account has posted vulgar references to body parts and sexual acts, as well as profanity and degrading comments about fellow students, who are named.

Well that has spurred action on the part of one legislator, who now wants to mandate there be a course outlining the proper use of social media; and the consequences for not doing so.

The report states:

More and more high schools are teaching students about the pitfalls of social networking, but Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, D-Camden, wants the state to make social media training a requirement, just like drug awareness and sex education.

“I believe it’s a crisis, and we have to act as legislators,” Fuentes said Thursday, adding that employers search sites like Twitter and Facebook for potentially embarrassing photos and information about job applicants.

His bill, A3292, would make schools teach responsible use of social media, including security, ethics and potential dangers, to students in the sixth through eighth grades.

“Children don’t always understand the permanence of the Internet or the long-term consequences of their actions,” he said. “They are vulnerable.”

Another bill in the state Senate (S2103) would direct the Department of Law and Public Safety to launch a public service campaign “to inform young people about the importance of maintaining one’s privacy while using the Internet.”

Anything having to do with teaching morals to students should, I’ve always felt, fall to the parents.

It’s that simple.

However, do you feel society at large has the responsibility of teaching kids the proper use of the internet and the pitfalls therein should they not have already learned?

It’s the vacuum that legislators like Assemblyman Fuentes always seek to fill when parents, who again, should be the ultimate force in their kids’ lives, don’t live up to their end of the bargain.

Schools have enough on their plate to get students to achieve scholastically; let alone protect them from bullies.

Now another law is being looked at to possibly protect them from themselves.

Do you feel we need a law mandating that schools teach schools teach students the responsible use of social media?

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