Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Students at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, New Jersey were asked to remove all online journals and profiles from the internet in an effort to help protect them from cyberpredators. Anyone who didn't comply was going to risk suspension. THe school lcaims this is for safety reasons and not censorship, but I'm not so sure.

Officials with the Diocese of Paterson say the directive is a matter of safety, not censorship. No one has been disciplined yet, said Marianna Thompson, a diocesan spokeswoman.

She said the ban has been on the books for five years but is only now being strictly enforced. Thompson said students aren't being silenced but rather told that they cannot post online writings about school or their personal lives.

I don't know what teenager wouldn't write about their school or personal life. It's what weighs most heavily on the mind at that age. And be it paper or electronic form, kids are going to write about those things. In addition to the censorship aspect to all of this there's the whole idea that these kids are being cut off from the way they've learned to socialize and express themselves.
Supporters of the student's said:

It would be better if they taught students what they should and shouldn't do online rather than take away the primary communication tool of their generation.

Most students I know are taught how to use the internet, in terms of how to search for things and how to use a website, but we are not taught the ettiquette and how to use it in terms of behavior. Multiply that by the thousands and you have what makes up a college campus full of students who know how to search for paper resources, but are running wild in all sorts of ways In everyone's defense the internetis still fairly new and changing rapidly in the ways that we use it and incorporate it into our life. However, the basic idea is still there.

What this brings me to is that, the Pope John XXIII Regional High School is a private institution with an appropriate use policy for the internet, much like the one we all had to sign and agree to every time we use a computer on campus. I'm willing to bet most Northeastern students glanced through it at the most and clicked "accept" in an effort to get their instant messenger up and running. While I don't see Northeastern University banning the use of popular sites like Myspace, Livejournal or Facebook anytime soon, it does bring back this Facebook related issue from earlier in the month


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