Principal to parents: Get your middle school kids off Facebook – good conversation to have (HT @etalbert)

I happen to disagree with Orsini’s position, but I think that it is an excellent discussion for us to have.

Cyberbullying is worse than face-to-face bullying. It is 24/7. It goes on when you are paying attention and when you are not paying attention. It is yet another element of modern society that parents have to develop new tools to address.

With that being said, banning children from using social networking sites is short-sighted. It is the easy way out and, like most solutions of the sort, it is unlikely to help. The bullying will go on with or without your child’s participation. That same bullying will continue to occur amongst those online (and face-to-face) and will hit your child in much the same manner when they return to school and are filled in on the happenings of the previous day/weekend. The reality is that we need to prepare our children to operate in the world as it is, not as we wish it was.

An educator should be more pragmatic than Orsini is being. It is a nice sound bite, but it is an incomplete solution to a complex issue and involves the education of both the abusers and the abused. Removal of a child from a situation should be one tool in a parent’s tool chest, but it is not, nor should it be, the only tool used. Taking incidents of bullying and using them as teachable moments can be valuable. After (but ideally prior to) incidents, parents should teach children how to best deal with bullying: engage, ignore, and report.

I fear that Orsini probably understands this as well, but he has given up on parental responsibility. It is relatively easy to say, “take them off social networks,” but it is much more difficult to address underlying causes of and solutions to bullying. His approach, though, is akin to sweeping the problem under the rug. This is an approach that we can ill-afford to resort to any longer. It has been the default for years, never with satisfactory results.

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