If you laughed and felt good after reading Mark Twain’s classic Tom Sawyer or followed Dennis the Menace in the funnies section you may want to check out the reality.
In Maryland, students posed as their vice principal’s twin 9-year-old daughters on pedophile websites, saying they had been having sex with their father and were looking for a new partner. Elsewhere, students have logged on to neo-Nazi and white supremacist sites claiming to be a Jewish or minority teacher and inciting the groups’ anger. Others have stolen photographs from teachers’ cellphones and posted them online.
“The ways they provoke teachers are limited only by their imaginations,” said lawyer Parry Aftab, who described the above cases as a few of the hundreds she’s handled.
In the Internet Age students are equipped with cellphones with video cameras and a plethora of apps that allow them easily to share information among each other and post online.
One of the new ways that students are harassing teachers has become known as “cyberbaiting.” Students irritate a teacher to the point that the teacher breaks down; that reaction then is captured in photos or video to post online. A Norton Online Family Report published last year found that 21 percent of teachers had experienced or knew another teacher who had experienced “cyberbaiting.”
Then there are cases of students who have created websites and blogs against teachers and administrators.
In South Florida, one student created a Facebook group page called, “Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever met!” The student encouraged others to “express your feelings of hatred.”
The student, Katherine Evans, took the page down but was suspended for three days and removed from her Advanced Placement classes. She later was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in a lawsuit against the principal of the Pembroke Pines Charter High School, arguing that her right to freedom of speech had been violated. She settled for $15,000 to cover her legal fees and her suspension was wiped from her record.
Courts “tend to side more with the students unless you can show dramatic problems,” Aftab said.(ack:AP of 22 June,’12)