Missouri Bill Bans Use of Social Networking Between Students and Teachers

A recently passed bill in Missouri is requiring schools to create policies about appropriate communication between teachers and students. It will also address using social networking sites that give the parties a chance to communicate privately. Why did Missouri lawmakers decide that this law was necessary and who is it meant to protect? Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

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Missouri Senate Bill 54

The bill, also known as the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, is designed to protect students from sexual abuse and misconduct, particularly in school. It was signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon on July 14, 2011 and goes into effect on August 28.

One of the provisions of the legislation calls for schools to create written policies that address communication between students and teachers or other employees. It must be developed by January 1, 2012 and one of the components must address using electronic media like social networking sites. In order for a teacher to be able to use a work-related website, school administrators must have access to it, in addition to the guardians of the students.

When it comes to websites not related to work, teachers are prohibited from using them to have 'exclusive access' with current students or former students who are under 18 years of age and still attending the school.

Social Networking Between Teachers and Students

The reason Missouri teachers will no longer be able to use social networking sites like Facebook with their students is because it allows them to send private messages. Once Facebook users log into their accounts using their private passwords, they can go to the 'messages' section to send e-mails to other users. Since school administrators and parents wouldn't have passwords to these private accounts, the site provides the 'exclusive access' that the bill prohibits.

The bill's sponsor, State Senator Jane Cunningham, told Fox News that the reason social networking is being included in the policy is 'because we're finding that it's an early pathway to sexual misconduct.'

The Good and the Bad

On one hand, it's a good thing to take extra steps to protect students. Although most educators would not use a messaging system through a social networking site for anything inappropriate, there are some that might. Missouri's new bill could mean preventing problems that start off as an innocent question through social networking and end up turning into something inappropriate.

This bill could have a downside, though. Social networking has become a tool used by many teachers to help engage students or keep them informed about classes. By not allowing teachers and students to communicate through these sites, it could end up limiting educators.

With the increased use of technology there is now also a need to protect students from cyberbullying.

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