You’re going to be shocked, but I have an opinion on this story:
A Roman Catholic high school has ordered its students to remove their online diaries from the Internet, citing a threat from cyberpredators.
Students at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta appear to be heeding a directive from the principal, the Rev. Kieran McHugh.
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.
It’s a private school, so no civil rights are being abused. That doesn’t make it right. It’s not even the most appropriate response a learning institution could pursue. Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation offered this, which is too logical and obvious for the school, I suppose:
“But this is the first time we’ve heard of such an overreaction,” he 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.”
The real issue for me in this is the likely reason the school believes this is within its bounds. The parents who enroll their kids in Pope John XXIII Regional High School probably signed something giving the school the ability to make this decision for their children. But why do parents feel this is good parenting? Better to learn early that parents own children.
This is a high school, where the “kids” are within a few years of adulthood. Sooner rather than later they’ll be making decisions on their own, involving themselves in relationships and activities with the same potential consequences that the school aims to protect with this policy. Shielding them from the world before turning them loose is an abdication of a basic purpose of education. Parents signing this away is worse.