COMMENTARY | Moms are angry this week in Kansas City. Apparently, a teacher accidentally left something pornographic on a laptop that was being used to project a biology lesson. When the projector fired up, the first-period biology class was subject to the sight of a “naked woman in a compromising position from behind,” reports Yahoo! News. A teenage girl snapped a photo of the laptop and its offending image with her cell phone and then sent the pic to her boyfriend, who uploaded it to his Facebook page. Now, both teens have been suspended, outraging their respective mothers.
The teens are in trouble for violating the school’s no-cell-phone-use policies. The moms want to appeal the suspensions, claiming that both students are Honor Roll, college-bound youth and that the teacher was the one who did wrong. Obviously, the teacher is in big trouble over this…but two wrongs don’t make a right. It is justifiable to punish the teens for violating school rules – and is, in fact, necessary.
Saying “you can’t use your phones in school unless you want to try to get evidence of teacher wrongdoing” is a nightmare waiting to unfurl. Can you say “cyberbaiting”? Kids will be trying to record every moment of teacher anger, hoping for dirt…if they’re not doing it already. As a high school teacher, I know to play it on the straight and narrow because kids are lighting-fast with their smartphones. One tirade and I’ll be on YouTube.
Sure, I could protest and try to get the uploaders in trouble for posting a video of me without permission, but I would have to deal with Muhammad Moms down for fifteen rounds of “you’re the teacher and they are children” ground-and-pound.
No, high school students are not children. They know the rules. The incident with the teacher’s porn should have been reported up the chain, not posted on the Internet. Allowing students to continue such vigilante behavior would only result in a bitter “surveillance arms race” between teachers and students, with teachers beginning to post their own videos of student misbehavior online, altering the videos so it cannot be proven who posted it.
Teachers could “cyberbait” students, have a hidden camera record the student’s resulting tirade, and then post it anonymously online. If confronted for illegal videotaping, the teacher could shrug and say “I didn’t do anything. It must have been one of the other thirty students in the class.”
Do we really want to go down that road? The only solution would be to have video surveillance in every classroom, all the time, watching both teacher and student. Talk about improving accountability! I would not be opposed, by the way – I try to run my classroom by the book, so it would be the students who would be caught in misbehavior.
If a teacher does wrong, students should report it to the appropriate administrators, not try to take action into their own phone-laden hands.
I do not believe the girl’s mother’s story that her daughter was so traumatized by the pornographic photo that it forced her to take a picture and send it to her boyfriend. The girl wanted a laugh and the potential to make a teacher squirm. The boyfriend uploaded the photo to Facebook for the same reason. If they were truly offended by the teacher’s blooper, wouldn’t they have…I don’t know…gone to the principal?
I doubt either teen would like it if a teacher took a photo of their misbehavior and put it on Facebook, hoping to get a laugh from other teachers. Suddenly, the angry moms would turn into experts on online privacy laws and wax eloquent on how nobody should ever post photos of someone without their express permission. Hypocrisy, much?
Hopefully the teens learn from their suspension and the teacher is also dealt with. Nobody was right in this situation, and nobody should escape fair punishment.