Tag Archives: facebook

Schools, Facebook and Cyberbullying

The decision last week by the board of management at Oatlands College, Stillorgan, to expel four students who posted abusive comments about their teachers on Facebook has raised a number of crucial issues for social media users, schools, the Department of Education, social media networks  and internet service providers.

While there are views regarding the severity of  the  decision to expel the pupils, the story raises a number of serious questions:

  • Why have social media networks failed to set any boundaries for what can and cannot be said online?
  • While there are many young social media users who have failed to grasp the power and permanence of the online written word and the implications for privacy, reputation and libel, surely there are those who do understand its implications and who have used it to devastating  effect?  The suicides of Tyler Clementi, Phoebe Prince and Leanne Wolfe in Cork   were a direct result of insidious cyber-bullying.

Boards of management and the Department of Education have a responsibility toward the reputation of their staff but also a responsibility toward the health and safety of their young students.

This is a story about malice, about reputation, about values, boundaries and responsibility. So what can be done?

  • The Department of Education should  revise and update its guidelines on bullying;
  • It should also introduce a social media education programme for teachers;
  • Consider the introduction of a new social media training programme as part of the school curriculum;
  • The Board of Management  need to create environments that value and teach tolerance and respect for all and introduce mandatory Codes of Conduct for the behaviour of teachers, students, general staff and visitors, if they have not already done so.  They need to create models of positive behaviour clearly demonstrating that there is no tolerance for certain behaviours including a zero tolerance approach toward bullying, cyber bullying and sexting.
  • The Department of Justice, in consultation with the Departments of Education and Communications  should draw up legislation on cyber-bullying.
  • The Department of Education, along with the Department of Communications, should also consider the setting up a forum involving parents associations, school boards of management, school principals, teacher’s unions along with  the key players in the communications industry – internet service providers, social media networks, mobile phone operators and SMS service providers to discuss ways in which the communications industry can play their role in combating cyber-bullying and sexting.

If left unaddressed we are allowing teachers and students to live in an unsafe school environment which is open to a constant  unhealthy 24/7 threat.  It is the least we can do in commemoration of the tragic suicides of  Clementi, Prince, Wolfe and all others who continue to be tormented by this insidious and malicious form of intimidation and bullying.


Kentucky Fried Chicken say ‘sorry’ for Thai tsunami Facebook message


KFC has apologised for a Facebook message that urged people to rush home during yesterday’s tsunami scare in Thailand and order a bucket of chicken.

As people were being urged to evacuate beach areas, the company posted: “Let’s hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don’t forget to order your favourite KFC menu.”

It prompted hundreds of angry comments on Thai websites denouncing the company as insensitive and selfish.

By today the message was removed and replaced by one that asked for forgiveness.

Yesterday’s earthquakes in Indonesia revived memories of the 2004 Asian tsunami that claimed 230,000 lives, including more than 8,000 people in Thailand. 

Facebook allows natural parents to track down adopted children, charities warn

The popularity of social networking websites has seen an increase in breaches of guidelines against unplanned contact with hundreds of adopted children unexpectedly hearing from their natural families.

Read the report here


Social media is here to stay so maybe the real lesson to be learned from this story is the need to  inform children, at the earliest opportunity, that they are adopted so that the experience becomes a ‘norm’ and a common and  natural feature of many families, which it is, that is both acceptable and accepted.