Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Anonymous posts have no good purpose

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Feb. 11, 2014 at 5:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 10, 2014 at 8:11 p.m.

Social media has brought about many changes in our world. Today, people can use their cellphones to log onto Facebook, post on Twitter and manage a myriad of social media websites that are capable of recording everything we have done at each and every point of our daily lives.

Because of this shift, certain parts of our everyday lives have become fundamentally different, including privacy, communication, relationships and more. We are seeing one negative effect of that change playing out in Crossroads schools thanks to some anonymous Twitter accounts including @SouthTXSchools and @WeAreSouthTX. These accounts encourage people to post explicit school stories using the 140-character format and easy distribution of Twitter.

These accounts are disappointing at the least. Our area is full of strong schools with a focus on providing the best for students. Instead, these accounts have shifted the focus from education and positive efforts to better students' lives to a destructive, hurtful stream of gossip.

Unfortunately, schools are not able to do much to shut these accounts down. Most of the posts are made anonymously and do not call out specific students by name. Victoria Independent School District spokeswoman Diane Boyett said in an earlier article, "If a student doesn't do the posting at school, it's not a violation of policy. ... If, however, it reaches the point that it's disrupting the learning environment, it is in fact legal for school districts to intervene."

Thankfully, these accounts have not caused too much of a disruption in schools, but the fact that they exist at all is upsetting and speaks to the importance of teaching respect for others and parental involvement in students' lives. As technology becomes more readily available to children of all ages, it is imperative that parents take the time to ensure their children know the importance of personal privacy and respect for others. Nothing good is accomplished by this hollow, anonymous lashing out at teachers and fellow students. Parents need to be proactive in teaching students to behave responsibly and respond with consequences when a child is caught taking part in something this destructive and harmful to others.

We also encourage school districts, teachers and administrators to be vigilant as they monitor websites like these. Those who take part in what is essentially cyberbullying should not be given a free pass because they can hide behind an anonymous screen name. If this strays into the reach of school officials to take official action, action should be taken. Students need to know that accountability and personal responsibility are real, and their actions do have consequences.

Above all, we hope those who are being victimized by these accounts do not take these ridiculous statements to heart. Those who are not brave enough to stand behind their words are not worth listening to.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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