Thursday, March 12, 2009

Danger in the Chat Room - A Message to Educators - Teach Appropriate Use

The school shootings in Germany and the shooting rampage in Alabama have left me sad, frustrated, and wanting to take action especially after reading about how the shooter in Germany warned of his attack in an internet chat room hours before. The news article states that a father came forward after his son told him of his conversation with the gentleman the night before. The conversation ended with the shooter stating "No reports to the police now, don't worry, I'm just baiting you" and an "lol"(Laugh out Loud.)

Why don't students report this sort of traffic to authorities? All sorts of explanations may be given. It's easy to react to such attacks and search for reasons.

I suggest it's time for schools to be proactive, pick up the slack and hammer appropriate use in all settings - hallways, email, cellphones, classrooms and chatrooms. Immerse our students in these settings and teach them what is right and how to behave. Young children continue to set their own rules because there aren't many adults teaching them otherwise. One only has to look at the recent academic suspension on a student due to his comments about a professor on Facebook. Stupidity or ignorance?

Though the argument may be made that it's a parents job to teach these applications, the school setting is consistent and steady. As educators, we aren't expecting parents to teach mathematics, why are we expecting them to teach appropriate use. Times are changing and it's our job to adapt. The effects of not doing so are beginning to emerge. Does that mean inappropriate behavior will stop - probably not. But at least we've done something to educate others regarding the right thing to do.

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