In an effort to deal with cyber bullying at a Queensland primary school, the principal, Leonie Hultgren, threatened to expel students under the age of 13 unless they delete their Facebook accounts.
Mrs. Hultgren, the primary school principal of the Harlaxton State School in Toowoomba, Queensland, thoroughly explained the reasons why the new policy is being brought up by releasing a couple of newsletters.
You Must be This Tall to Ride
One of the biggest points in the newsletters released was that the legal age for Facebook usage is 13. She mentioned that registering for a user account in Facebook means that you will have to agree that you are over 13 years of age, which basically means that those primary school students under the age of 13 have provided false information. This is clearly a clear violation of Facebook’s ‘Statement of Rights and Responsibilities’.
Principal Hultgren then urged parents having kids under the age of 13, to delete their kids’ Facebook accounts. The principal even linked a video on how to report any under-aged user as an alternative, if ever the parents are unable to log into their child’s accounts.
The principal also explained that another reason for deleting under-aged user accounts is because these kids are not ready for social media sites yet. Facebook is a site which is not exactly geared towards those who are still too young to get a grasp of using social media. She also mentioned that the user needs to be at least 13 years of age in order to make sure that he or she knows what is socially acceptable and what is considered to be unlawful.
Yay or Nay?
There are quite a number of people who are in favor of the principal’s decision. For one, Susan McLean, Internet Safety Expert and former Victorian policewoman, said that schools have responsibilities, and one of it is to straighten up the students attending it. McLean said that the Facebook user accounts of the under-aged students should be deactivated since they provided false information online to register, which is similar to breaking the law.
Adolescent and child psychologist, Carr-Gregg even congratulated principal Hultgren in regards to the new policy. Dr. Carr-Gregg said that it was a good way to deal with the problems that arise when those who are still not able to manage their behavior online.
However, while some people view this as an act that is fair and well, there are those who believe that the school may be overdoing it and is stepping outside of its boundaries, thus falling into the grey area. Steven Troeth, a partner at Gadens Lawyers, believes that even principals have no authority to place a ban on social media sites even if the user is under-aged. While Troeth does accept the fact that Facebook prompts that its users should at least be 13 years of age, no particular law enforces this rule.
There were also quite a number of mothers who were not that supportive in regards to the new policy set in motion.
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