Teachers and Students Don't Mix On Facebook

   By drodriguez  Aug 01, 2011

Simply adding a friend on Facebook could now get Missouri teachers in hot water, that is if the “friend” happens to be a current or former student. The new Senate Bill 54 has made it illegal for teachers in Missouri to connect with students on any type of social networking site (not just Facebook) that allows for private communications.

The social network ban is just one of the provisions in the new bill set up to protect students from sexual abuse within the school system. Critics of the provision believe the social networking ban can actually be detrimental to students who feel more comfortable using sites like Facebook to disclose personal information to their teachers about everything from suicidal thoughts to sexual abuse.

Middle school communications arts teacher in Missouri's Joplin School District, Randy Turner, is quoted in PC Magazine explaining why she thinks the social network ban could be a mistake. Turner says, “For some students, that move could very well prevent them from confiding in a trusted adult friend who might be able to help them get through serious problems in their lives.”

Missouri teachers are also feeling a bit confused by the ban since the bill hasn’t made clear when and if it is ever okay to socialize with students online. District spokesperson, Zac Rants, told an ABC affiliate about some of the questions he has after reading the new bill. Rants says, “This bill does leave a few gray areas. It says current and former students, that's what the bill reads. Does that mean students you've had in the classroom, the school district? What if you've changed school districts?”

What do you think of the new bill banning teachers and students from connecting on social networking sites?  Would you want your child to be able to friend their teachers on Facebook?

Do you think the ban will keep kids safer or make them less likely to confide in their teachers when they have a serious problem?


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paperbackwriter1993 by paperbackwriter1993 | Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Mar 02, 2012

Anyway, in regards to student-teacher communications on Facebook, etc., the school district made a rule that teachers and their CURRENT students were not (I put this in past-tense in case it is no longer in place) allowed to communicate with each other on Facebook, etc. However, teachers and students are allowed to communicate with and befriend each other on social networking sites AFTER THE STUDENT HAS GRADUATED if at least one of the student's parents also added the teacher to their own friends list, so that parents may monitor student-teacher communications on Facebook if they so choose. I think the rules proposed for the state of Missouri are ridiculous, especially the part about outlawing the ability to befriend FORMER students. Most kids are legally adults when they graduate from high school, or they're a few months shy of 18, and they should be able to stay in touch with teachers who made a positive impact on their lives.

paperbackwriter1993 by paperbackwriter1993 | Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Mar 02, 2012

I am friends with my favorite teacher from high school on Facebook. I was in his journalism class for three years. He's a very interesting, knowledgeable, compassionate person with a good, clean sense of humor and a very clear set of boundaries about what constitutes appropriate relationships with students, both former and current. The man won't even hug students, regardless of their gender, because of how it could be perceived by onlookers. I just wanted to clear that up because I know the minds of many people who read my comment might automatically hop on the train of thought that insists my former teacher is a dirty buzzard.

kikibakes by kikibakes | ISSAQUAH, WA
Mar 01, 2012

@ Bryelee, I educate at risk youth at a private Christian alternative high school. A lot of my kids need resources outside of just my classroom, and they need to know that there are adults that support them, so if they request me on Facebook, I usually say yes. I also keep my facebook professional, and don't friend any boys because of the very threat of anything being misconstrued and misrepresented. Remember, inappropriate teachers have been around LONG before facebook (ahem, Marykay Laterneau?), so it's not really facebook that is the issue, it's the mentality that some weirdos have beyond any social networking site.

Bryelee by Bryelee | Dover, DE
Oct 04, 2011

As a parent of 3 school aged kids why in the world would you friend the teacher? I don't get why a teacher would friend a child or their parent.

DianeHoffmaster by DianeHoffmaster | LILBURN, GA
Aug 05, 2011

As a parent, *I* dont even friend my kid's teachers on facebook! There has to be a boundary! And besides, sometimes I like to vent about a particular project in the 'privacy' of my own facebook stream :)

sharman421 by sharman421 | TALLAHASSEE, FL
Aug 01, 2011

As usual, too much government gets in everyone's way. As a middle school teacher, I am constantly getting friend requests from my students. My rule of thumb is to friend them when they move on to high school. I could, however, have a separate account if I chose just for school related discussion. I know teachers who do this. All students and parents have access to all of the teachers' school email addresses. I often communicate with "my kids" this way. It is usually about academics, homework assignments or projects. But occasionally, kids are able to express things via email that they wouldn't otherwise. There have been instances where I had to contact a guidance counselor or a parent to alert them of an emotional problem. We are in the technological age. Young people have always had computers and social networks in their lives. Banning facebook friending will not stop anyone with intent to commit harm.

emimorgan by emimorgan | Pittsford, NY
Aug 01, 2011

I think this law is ridiculous. I don't think it should be up to the government to decide how teachers and students should interact - as long as nothing inappropriate is happening. Teachers who are inappropriate will be with or without Facebook - this just takes away another avenue for support for kids in need outside of the classroom. So many teachers are more than just teachers - they are mentors, parents, and support networks. Some subjects are hard to discuss in person, and why not use Facebook? Also - I agree that the law is vague. Should I not be allowed to contact a teacher I had over 10 years ago? What if I don't have his or her email address? I've reached out to many former teachers to thank them for their impact on my life or to ask for recommendations.. Facebook is just one way to do that.

msfriendly by msfriendly | MONROE, WI
Aug 01, 2011

I know of a school nurse in our town who is "friends" with most of the student population. I think this is just wrong. There are boundries that shouldn't be crossed. I know this nurse is just doing this so she can keep tabs with what's going on with the personal lives of these students. If a student has a serious problem and needs someone (teacher, school nurse, coach) to confide in, than it shouldn't be done via social media.

3kidstightbudget by 3kidstightbudget | San Jose, CA
Aug 01, 2011

As a teacher, I think it's the job of the adult in the situation to keep boundaries and relationships clear. I personally will not be friends on facebook with any of my students until they are long past being my student, although that's not as difficult for me since I teach third graders. However, my own children, now all in college, all said they thought it was "creepy" when teachers were friends with current students on fb.