The Arapahoe Pinnacle

Opinion: Should Schools Police Student’s Social Media Profiles?
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Alysson Masson, Student Guest Writer

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On August 31st of this year, two Colorado students took their lives due to online posts. One student was a junior at Arapahoe High School named Adam Powers, and the other an eighth-grade boy at Powell Middle School named Steven Truesdale. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among teenage boys have risen 31% and doubled for teenage girls from the years of 2007 to 2015. The National Center for Education Statistics states that nine percent of students, over 2 million boys and girls, from sixth grade to year twelve reported being cyberbullied online in 2011. So, are these connected? 

Doctor David D. Luxton of the National Center for Telehealth and Technology believes so. In his article “Social Media and Suicide: A Public Health Perspective,” co-written by authors Jennifer D. June and Jonathan M. Fairall, they discuss a survey done at Florida Atlantic University by Hinduja and Patchin. 

Hinduja and Patchin gave out 2,000 surveys to middle school students “that indicated that victims of cyberbullying were almost 2 times as likely to attempt suicide than those who were not.” The results also stated that those who bullied online were 1.5 times more likely to try to kill themselves than students that do not cyberbully.  

So how do we begin to solve this? I believe that if schools were to monitor their students’ social media profiles, then the rates of suicide for kids from kindergarten to 12th grade will drop. If students can no longer access bullying by social media, then there will be less suicide victims of cyberbullying. 

Some could argue that it would be a violation of privacy for the students. There is also an opposing argument present about the financial burden this would place on the schools to hire people to monitor the plethora of accounts the students have to every site. 

First, I would like to state that these are public profiles, so essentially there is nothing private about them. At many schools in the Douglas County School District, if not all of them, they currently have blocked certain social media sites like Facebook and Snapchat so that kids cannot access those sites while on school WIFI. So, is what I am proposing really that much different? 

To follow up with the second argument, the schools could always ask for volunteers from the public or within the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Even if the schools do have to hire people, can we really place a price on the lives of students? Are a few bucks more important than a child’s life? 

I certainly don’t believe that every school should do this right off the bat, but I do think that a school district needs to step up to the plate and give it a try. That way, they can tweak it so that it is even better. 

It is clear that there needs to be something done. I’m not saying that this is the only way, but I do believe it is a step in the right direction. 

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