2014 CFOG Essay Contest First Place Winner – Daniel Hagen
2014 First Place Winner
Immaculate High School, Danbury
Teacher: Joseph Muchanski
One of the most widely debated social issues regarding children and teens today is their behavior on social networks and cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can range from anything to going online and using social media to spread rumors about a person to directly harassing, threatening, and bullying a person. Another online issue is children and teens violating school policies and posting about it or putting pictures of it online. Some people believe that students should be required to give school administrators access to their social media accounts so they can investigate issues of bullying and other violations of school policies, I am not one of those people.
The primary reason I do not believe students should be required to give administrators access to their social media accounts is because I believe what students do online and out of school is not under the school’s jurisdiction. Schools shouldn’t have any more authority over what students are doing online than they have over what students do outside of school in their everyday lives. Giving schools the ability to punish students for what they do online is like allowing them to give students detentions for talking in a movie theater; it’s just not the authority of a school.
Another reason I believe students shouldn’t be required to give administrators access to their social media accounts is because I don’t believe that schools have the time or ability to properly investigate social media problems. Schools barely have the capability to properly monitor what’s going within school walls as it already is and having them monitor students online would be an added headache for them. I also believe that administrators would have a difficult time understanding the difference between the jokes that make up the majority of social networks and the actual problems. The inability to distinguish between these two things could lead to the wrong people being punished. Not to mention that people who are truly doing bad things rarely ever post about it online
The final reason I believe that administrators should not be given the access to the social media accounts of students is because cyber bullying is often a solvable issue. As someone who has been on the receiving end of cyber bullying I can testify that oftentimes the solution is as simple as hitting the block button or walking away from the computer. I can also testify that for every person out there looking to cyber bully someone there are at least five people ready to defend the victim.
Although I am strongly opposed to students being required to give school administrators access to their social media accounts, I do not believe that the First Amendment protects students from it. Making students give school administrators access to their social media accounts does not directly prevent students from expressing their views or speaking freely. However, if schools were to place restrictions on what students could say or do on social networks then students would be protected from that.
All in all I believe that the issues regarding children and teens on social networks are portrayed as much worse than they truly are and that schools shouldn’t be allowed to monitor them.
Updated | June 2014
Use the links below to navigate this page to find resources on bullying and cyberbullying:
After Phoebe Prince died, we asked students, What Can Be Done to Stop Bullying? Later that year, when Tyler Clementi committed suicide, we asked What Should the Punishment Be for Acts of Cyberbullying? Hundreds of students wrote in to discuss both questions. That summer, we also posted a collection of resources on bullying for teachers and parents.
In May of 2012 we collaborated with the Op-Ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof to hold an essay contest on bullying. Here, he writes about the contest winners in his column.
Bullying and cyberbullying seem to be in the news more than ever. Visit the related Times Topics page and you’ll find articles about:
What do you think: Has all the attention to this subject by parents, educators, legislators and filmmakers helped?
Below you’ll find our new, comprehensive list of resources, including lesson plans, Times articles, links to organizations around the Web, and a list of questions that we hope will inspire writing and discussion on this important subject.
Some Questions for Discussion or Writing
The following questions are suggested by the related Times or Learning Network materials that are linked above them.
From “Teenagers Tell Researchers It’s a Cruel, Cruel Online World”:
- Have you witnessed “people being mean or cruel” online, as 88 percent of teens say they have? Have you joined in?
- How can the use of social media “echo and amplify” bullying?
From “Bullying Law Puts New Jersey Schools on Spot”:
- Do you agree with the statement, “There is no such thing as an innocent bystander when it comes to bullying”?
- Are laws like New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights necessary, or do they go too far?
From “Gossip Girls and Boys Get Lessons in Empathy”:
From an Op-Ed, “Bullying as True Drama”:
- Would you say there is bullying in your school, or would you just say there is “drama”?
- What’s the difference between “drama” and behavior that is more serious?
- Why might the language adults use to talk about bullying (“victim” and ” perpetrator,” for instance) be alienating to young adults?
From “Behind Every Harassed Child? A Whole Lot of Clueless Adults,” A.O. Scott’s review of the movie “Bully”:
- How can adults — often unwittingly — contribute to the problem of bullying?
- To what extent do you think cruelty is “embedded” in our schools and in our society as a whole?
From “The Bleakness of the Bullied,” Charles M. Blow’s column about the bullying he endured at age 8:
- How does it feel to a child to be bullied?
From our lesson plan, ‘A Troubling Trend’: Discussing Bullying and Anti-Gay Attitudes:
- What, if anything, can be done to make schools safer and more inclusive?
Learning Network Resources
Lesson Plans and Other Teaching Materials:
Lesson | ‘A Troubling Trend’: Discussing Bullying and Anti-Gay Attitudes
Reader Idea | A Student-Driven Bullying Curriculum
Lesson | Do The Right Thing: Making Ethical Decisions in Everyday Life
Lesson | No Place for Bullies: Holding Anonymous Discussions to Reflect on Solutions
Lesson | Crossing the Line Online: Sexual Harassment and Violence in the Age of Social Media
Common Core Practice | College Basketball, Defining Bullying, and Water in India
Lesson | Does Motivation Matter? Debating the Legal Category of Hate Crime
Lesson | Who’s Got the Power? Reflecting on Healthy and Abusive Relationship Dynamics
Lesson | Responding in Kind: Writing Essays About Choosing Kindness in the Face of Cruelty
Lesson | Many Reasons Why: Reflecting on Teen Depression
Lesson | Monkey See, Monkey Do: Considering the Social Ecosystems of Schools by Learning About a Baboon Troop
Lesson | Hall Monitors: Investigating Violence in Schools
Guest Post | 10 Ways to Talk to Students About Sensitive Issues in the News
Reading Club | Should Character Be Taught? Students Weigh In
Teaching Resources Series | Adolescent Health
Q. and A. | How Facebook Use Correlates With Student Outcomes
Student Opinion Questions:
All of the following questions are still open to student comment:
How Big a Problem Is Bullying or Cyberbullying in Your School or Community?
When Do Pranks Cross the Line to Become Bullying?
Do Adults Who Are ‘Only Trying to Help’ Sometimes Make Things Worse?
Does Mitt Romney’s High School Bullying Matter?
Should the R Rating for ‘Bully’ Be Changed?
Can Kindness Become Cool?
How Should Schools Address Bullying?
What Should the Punishment Be for Acts of Cyberbullying?
What Can Be Done to Stop Bullying?
How Do You Use Facebook?
How Much Do You Gossip?
Who Has the Power in School Social Life?
Are You Popular, Quirky or Conformist?
Do You Unknowingly Submit to Peer Pressure?
Does Your Digital Life Have Side Effects?
Selected Recent New York Times Content:
A Curriculum to Strengthen Students Against Cyberbullying
On Facebook, Bullies ‘Like’ if You Hate
School Bullies Prey on Children With Autism
Family of Boy, 12, Who Hanged Himself Points to Bullying
A Star Athlete Makes a Big Move Off the Field
Film Review: “Behind Every Harassed Child? A Whole Lot of Clueless Adults”
“Bullying Law Puts New Jersey Schools on Spot”
“In Suburb, Battle Goes Public on Bullying of Gay Students”
“Minnesota School District Reaches Agreement on Preventing Gay Bullying”
Motherlode: “What Works to End Bullying?”
Motherlode: “How Do We Define Bullying?”
“Accusations of Bullying After Death of Staten Island Teenager”
SchoolBook: “Bullying Changes a School, One Child at a Time”
Well: “Talking About the It Gets Better Project”
“Rutgers Verdict Repudiates Notion of Youth as Defense”
From the Opinion Pages:
Nicholas D. Kristof: The Winning Essays Are …
Nicholas D. Kristof: “Born to Not Get Bullied”
Bill Keller: “Tyler and Trayvon”
Bill Keller: “Tyler and Trayvon, Continued …”
Charles M. Blow: “The Bleakness of the Bullied”
Op-Ed: “Bullying as True Drama”
Op-Ed: “Make the Punishment Fit the Cyber-Crime”
Interactive | Coming Out: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Teenagers Talk About Their Lives
Slide Show | In Skidmore, Mo., a Killing Lingers