Be careful what you say, even on the internet

Filed under: Teens, In The News, Day Care & Education

There's a very good rule of thumb you might have heard from your own parents, once upon a time. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Avery Doninger, a senior at Lewis S. Mills High School in Connecticut didn't follow that advice and is now paying the price. After writing a post on her blog calling school officials "douchebags", she has been barred from being reelected as class secretary and cannot speak at her graduation ceremony. Because of her post, it was decided that she represented a "foreseeable risk of substantial disruption" and therefore could no longer hold her position.

Since the post was written outside of school, Doninger and her mother filed suit, believing that the school had violated her first amendment rights. The case has made it through the U.S. Court of Appeals which said that offensive speech, while a right of adults, "may legitimately give rise to disciplinary action by a school" especially if the school is expected to teach kids "the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior." In addition, the court decided that being class secretary was a privilege that could be taken away.

Some are concerned that this sets a dangerous precedent, since the girl's post made no threats. It seems to me that students should have the right to say what they want on their personal websites, but that they have to understand that there may be repercussions for doing so. There are also much better ways to make one's point than with vulgar names, something most teens, however, have yet to learn.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.