Getty ImagesAccording to the New York Post, at least three city high school educators have been fired in the last three months for having inappropriate Facebook interactions with their students.
What's inappropriate? A Bronx high school teacher who wrote "this is sexy" under the pictures of teenage girls he had "friended," and also posted the gag-worthy tagline, "I'm not a gynecologist but I'll take a look inside" on his own profile. Then there's 30-year-old paraprofessional in Queens who posted a picture of herself kissing a former 18-year-old student who she started dating after he had graduated. Add to that a substitute teacher who sent messages complimenting certain girls on their looks and telling them their boyfriends did not deserve them and well, we've got some new-fangled boundary issues that school officials are struggling to keep up with.
The issue of teachers becoming Facebook friends with their students is a recurring hot topic on Shine, where the consensus from parents rides somewhere between "heck no" and "hold on, let me get my shotgun."
"Too many teachers have crossed lines and made the profession look bad," one Shine commenter wrote in a recent post, summing up a lot of comments from others. "Facebook and MySpace and the like are just a slippery slope."
While this may be true, after reading comment after comment of parents wringing their hands over this latest Facebook evil, I just have to say, I don't get it. I mean, I absolutely get that no adult should ever be talking to our sons and daughters in some creepy, loaded way, but the truth is, Facebook isn't making that happen. That has always been happening.
I had two teachers make passes at me in high school and I don't think I'm alone in that. Actually, I know I'm not, because after reading the Post article today, I shot out a quick email to a few friends and 4 out of 6 had the same experience. While that is hardly scientific, it does make me wonder if that sort of thing is way more common than we allow ourselves to think.
The major difference between then and now: We didn't have a way to talk about it. We certainly didn't have a way to show anyone else what was happening, or to supply a school board with evidence against the offenders. To be honest, I'm not even sure I knew I was being offended at that point--if anything, I felt guilty for being more scared than flattered (oh, the misinformed ego of a teenage girl). My point being: creepy teachers are not some new invention of technology. The fact that Facebook makes it easier for them to act inappropriately also means that they are easier to find, and, in the the case of the three teachers above, easier to fire. Miracle of modern technology? Maybe not. But certainly an improvement on my high school experience.
What about yours?