I hate fear-based approaches to education. I grew up on the “this is your brain on drugs” messages and watched classmates go from being afraid of drugs to trying marijuana to deciding that all of the messages about drugs were idiotic. (Crystal meth and marijuana shouldn’t be in the same category.) Much to my frustration, adults keep turning to fear to “educate” the kids with complete disregard to the unintended consequences of this approach. Sometimes, it’s even worse. I recently received an email from a friend of mine (Chloe Cockburn) discussing an issue brought before the ACLU. She gave me permission to share this with you:
A campus police officer has been offering programs about the dangers inherent in using the internet to middle and high school assemblies. As part of her presentation she displays pictures that students have posted on their Facebook pages. The idea is to demonstrate that anyone can have access to this information, so be careful. She gains access to the students’ Facebook pages by creating false profiles claiming to be a student at the school and asking to be “friended”, evidently in violation of Facebook policy.
An ACLU affiliate received a complaint from a student at a small rural high school. The entire assembly was shown a photo of her holding a beer. The picture was not on the complainant’s Facebook page, but on one belonging to a friend of hers, who allowed access to the bogus profile created by the police officer. The complainant was not “punished” as the plaintiff above was, but she was humiliated, and she is afraid that she will not get some local scholarship aid as a result.
So here we have a police officer intentionally violating Facebook’s policy and creating a deceptive profile to entrap teenagers and humiliate them to “teach them a lesson”??? Unethical acts + deception + fear + humiliation != education. This. Makes. Me. Want. To. Scream.