Tag Archives: Technology’s role increasing in Utah teacher misconduct

Improper teacher and student contact often begins with improper social media contact

3 Dec

Right Said Fred, the English trio had a hit with the danceable little ditty, I’m Too Sexy:

I’m too sexy for my love too sexy for my love Love’s going to leave me I’m too sexy for my shirt too sexy for my shirt So sexy it hurts And I’m too sexy for Milan too sexy for Milan New York and Japan And I’m too sexy for your party Too sexy for your party No way I’m disco dancing http://www.elyrics.net/read/r/right-said-fred-lyrics/i_m-too-sexy-lyrics.html

Too sexy might be OK for a dance club, but it shouldn’t describe the relationship between a teacher and their students. Teachers must be professional and authoritative in the classroom.
Children are not mature and adults cannot expect the same level of maturity that most adults are presumed to have. Immature people, like kids, will take even harmless interactions and embellish and broadcast them to the world at large. The safest course of action for teachers who want to be viewed as teacher professionals is to use common sense when using all social media and never put yourself in a situation with a student which can be viewed as compromising.

Tony Semerad of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote in the article, Technology’s role increasing in Utah teacher misconduct:

Sexual activity involving students now accounts for about 22 percent of pending teacher licensing investigations, leading all other types of misbehavior, with financial improprieties a close second. Officials note, though, that sex cases tend to remain open longer while police and school authorities investigate the details.
The latest data show the state hit a 10-year high in 2012 for internal state Office of Education investigations of licensing complaints of all types against teachers. The 67 cases last year ranged from sexual transgressions to fiscal mismanagement, inappropriate computer use including accessing porn, violent behavior and use of drugs or alcohol.
While Weber’s case did not directly involve technology, a Salt Lake Tribune analysis shows tools such as cellphones, texting and social media are increasingly a factor in teacher misconduct cases. Experts say digital exchanges allow problem teachers to breach appropriate boundaries with students outside of parental view.
As a new generation grows up online, clear rules are becoming more difficult to nail down. The trend is forcing hard questions on how to retain the value of devices such as smartphones as teaching tools while preventing their misuse.
“We’re all running to create guidelines to keep up with this rapidly moving field,” said Leslie Castle, a Utah Board of Education member pressing for tougher punishment of errant educators.
Teachers who officially run afoul of professional standards for a range of bad behaviors represent a tiny slice — approximately two-tenths of 1 percent — of roughly 31,600 licensed educators in Utah schools.
Yet even a single instance of sexual violation by an authority figure can alter a child’s life irrevocably.
“The fundamental betrayal of trust … can cause significant emotional harm to a victim, even if the abuse only occurred one time,” said Chris Anderson, executive director of MaleSurvivor, a group focused on preventing and healing sexual victimization of boys and men.
“Sadly,” Anderson said, “it can often take decades for us to know the true scale of the harm done to a survivor….”

Janet R. Decker posted at Education Nation the article, ‘Like’ It or Not, Facebook Can Get Teachers Fired:

School employees have constitutional rights that must be protected, but it is also important to protect students and safeguard the image of teachers as role models. Yet, teachers and administrators may be unsure of their legal responsibilities surrounding social networking. Part of the difficulty is that technology advances at a quicker pace than legal precedent. Because of this reality, schools are encouraged to implement policies and consider the following recommendations regarding employees’ online behavior.
1. EDUCATE! It’s not enough to have policies, schools should also have professional development about these issues. By doing so, staff are notified about the expectations and have a chance to digest and ask questions about the policies.
2. Be empathetic in policies and actions. Administrators may wish that a school’s computers only be used for educational purposes, but this is an unrealistic expectation.
3. Create separate student and staff policies, because the laws pertaining to these two groups differ greatly.
4. Involve staff in policy creation. This process will help employees comprehend the policies and will likely foster staff buy-in.
5. Be clear and specific. Policies should include rationales, legal support, and commentary with examples.
6. Ensure your policies conform to state and federal law.
7. Include consequences for violations in your policies and implement the consequences.
8. Provide an avenue for appeal and attend to employees’ due process rights.
9. Implement policies in an effective and non-discriminatory manner.
10. Evaluate and amend policies as the law evolves. Much of the law related to technology is in flux. What is legal today may not be tomorrow.
In sum, it is important that school employees understand that they are expected to be role models both inside and outside of the school – even while on Facebook. http://www.educationnation.com/index.cfm?objectid=72C543DE-4EA0-11E1-B607000C296BA163

Because information posted on social media can go viral, it is important to use common sense in dealing with both parents and students. https://drwilda.com/2012/09/23/managing-school-facebook-relationships-can-be-challenging/

Teachers and others in responsible positions who deal with children must exercise common sense and not put themselves in situations which at the minimum will be awkward and which will lead to activity which is inappropriate.

Boundaries people. Boundaries.

If you are too stupid to use caution or you can’t exercise caution, society will begin to impose sanctions against those engaged in inappropriate activity with children. Engaging in inappropriate activity with children does not make you too sexy, it makes you too stupid!

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