Back in July, Governor Dannel signed a piece of legislation that greatly changed the state’s school bullying laws. The newly passed statute redefines how the state defines bullying which now includes instances of cyberbullying, and expands the scope of bullying protection to include school-sponsored activities, bus stops and buses, as well as electronic devices that belong to the school.
The new legislation also requires that school districts prohibit instances of bullying outside of schools if there is any sort of effect on the bullied student or their rights at school or if the education process is disturbed.
As a result of the changes to state bullying legislation, school systems around the state have to revamp their existing student policies regarding bullies. Recently Shelton’s school Superintendent Freeman Burr addressed how the changes could possibly affect Shelton’s school policy.
He added that the changes put extra pressure on teachers, administrators and other school personnel to take on an investigative role when they hear of instances of possible bullying when their focus is supposed to be teaching.
Burr does present a very valid point: The role of teachers is to educate their students, not play investigator whenever they hear the words “Facebook” or “Twitter.” There is a high probability that when students are discussing something they saw on social media websites, they are not talking about anything malicious.
People, who include but are not limited to teenagers, engage in gossip. Because of how prevalent social media has become in American culture, there is a good chance that gossip will arise from who tweeted what, or what tagged who in a Facebook post or photo or anything else they happened to see online. The same goes for texting conversations.
It is not the responsibility of teachers to play the parent role and constantly ask students what they are talking about whenever they hear mention of social media. Teachers cannot be expected to investigate every single conversation they ever overhear especially when there is nothing malicious about the conversation in question.
That is not to say teachers do not have a responsibility to investigate when they overhear a conversation that does sound as though it might be malicious. In these instances, teachers absolutely do have the responsibility to investigate and, if necessary, intervene. Obvious bullying should never be ignored, but seeking out instances of it occurring is not part of their job.
Teachers have enough to do as it is without having to play parent to their students. It is not up to teachers to be sure students are behaving when using social media or their cell phones. That responsibility falls squarely on the parents who are providing their children with access to use these mediums. Parents should be educating their kids about bullying from an early age and instilling morals in their children that will prevent bullying in the first place.