Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Should young children be allowed to use Facebook?

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan – In a sad development, Janice Lewis, mother of seventh-grader Desiree Pugh, has decided to extract her daughter from Indiana Hills Middle School in Prairie Village, Kan. as a result of constant cyberbullying antics performed by rival students via social media.

“I’m just sick and tired,” said Desiree on a recent Facebook post. Janice feels pretty much the same way. She’s even noticed a sharp contrast in Desiree’s overall academic performance.

“Her behavior has changed,” said Janice. “Her grades are not A’s and B’s but C, D and F’s. I just feel I can’t get back any of that. I’m sorry, it bothers me.”

To compound matters, the parents I’ve spoken to insist this a racial issue. Desiree is a black student immersed in a predominant white school district.

“She told us she didn’t want to live anymore, if this doesn’t stop,” said Janice. “I just want to give up.”

A series of meetings with teachers and administrators, coupled with repetitive phone calls to local authorities, have been surprisingly ineffective in suppressing this conflict. Janice has even gone as far as to file a police report.

Still, the threats continue.

The school’s assertion claims lack of authority because the Facebook posts are conducted outside its arena of jurisdiction.

“We can’t control what’s happening outside of school,” said Principal Carla Allen. “The drama isn’t happening from school. What’s happening, is when people come to school the next day after what was posted the night before and they are angry.”

After exhausting all possibilities, Janice is convinced the only option left is to pull Desiree out. And who can blame her? After all, it’s Janice’s duty as a parent to place her child in the best situation possible. The drastic decline in academics suggest Desiree’s focus has been compromised.

The attack originated inside the classroom.

“She said she wanted to smack me,” said Desiree, referring to another student. “I said, ‘What did I do?’ From that point she got angry with me.”

Like you, I’m appalled.

And bitterly disappointed.

The school’s hands are tied, I get that.

No need to confute.

But I, for the life of me, can’t understand how the dissemination of threatening remarks through Facebook are not punishable by law. Especially if there’s a racial overtone involved because then we’re talking about the serious prospect of a hate crime. The Columbine Massacre in 1999 should serve as a remorseful reminder these types of variances shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Also, I do believe it’s time for legislators to consider enforcing age limits on social media registrations to hinder young people like Desiree and fellow students from gaining access.

Yes, some liberties would be abstracted.

But, think about it. Without the application of Facebook, this probably wouldn’t be much of a story.

Social media, in this case, only adds kerosene to the scholastic fire.

Wayne HodgesWayne Hodges, an MBA from St. Mary University, is the Editor-in-Chief of “Mass Appeal News.” He also serves as a contributing writer to, he’s a Democrat reporter for the Examiner, and he’s a movie critic and journalist with Wayne welcomes your comments 24/7 at

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