A school principal fed up with cyber-bullying has used his usually sedate newsletter column to send a blunt message to parents.
“GET YOUR KIDS OFF FACEBOOK,” thundered the latest newsletter issued by Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, in Tweed Heads.
“THIS VERBAL SEWER IS HARMING YOUR CHILDREN.”
Principal Chris Duncan's bold, large-print warning filled the front-page column normally devoted to his formal message to parents.
Mr Duncan said he normally wrote an 800-word article on education or school issues, but he was prompted to take a different approach after having to help a 16-year-old student who suffered serious abuse on Facebook.
“It was one of those reflex actions,” he said.
Lindisfarne principal Chris Duncan and the school newsletter bearing his stark warning about Facebook. Photo: John Gass/Daily News
“I put it [the newsletter] out and thought this is going to offend half of the school community, but the feedback I've had is overwhelmingly positive.”
Mr Duncan said he was aware of students who had been sent into an “appalling state” due to abuse they received on Facebook, with some children being more vulnerable than others.
“Some kids deal with it really well and other kids are mortally wounded by it and it's just the way different kids react to things,” he said.
“I, and all of my colleague principals around the country, deal with very distressed young people and very distressed parents who have been subjected to what I would call tirades of verbal abuse on Facebook.”
Mr Duncan said he expelled two students last year for serious online harassment online of other students, one on Facebook and the other on the school's internal email system.
He said he was not suggesting a blanket Facebook ban but urged parents to be more proactive.
“My concern is parents are not overly aware of what their kids are subjected to until it gets to the point you've got a very distressed, abused young person,” he said.
“Certainly if they've got primary school age kids they shouldn't be on Facebook for a start and with teenage kids they should be aware of what they're doing, or limit their time on the computer at least.”
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