A story in the news this week from our home state of New Jersey is yet another example of the uneasy relationship between high school administrators and their students over the inappropriate use of social media.
Students at Egg Harbor Township High School posted a profanity-laced video on YouTube over the weekend and the video reportedly went viral and was reported to school officials. It’s impossible to say how viral the original post went because it was subsequently taken down, but it was reposted yesterday and has over 16,000 views. Warning: video and comments are NSFW due to the language used.
The high school posted the following comment on Facebook on Monday afternoon, and confirmed that they had reported the video to the police and prosecutor’s office:
As is normally the case, school officials declined to state what the exact punishment levied on the video creators was, but local press reports indicate that the students were suspended for 10 days.
A very vocal portion of the student body is not pleased. More than 100, and perhaps as many as 200 students staged a walkout at the high school yesterday, and a petition posted on the Change.org site decrying the harsh punishment has 762 signatures as of this morning. You can find social media posts showing support on various sites under the hashtag #FreeTonyBeatz.
What should have happened? We don’t have all the details, but here’s our take.
It appears that the video was shot on school grounds on the weekend, so likely without permission. The profane video and scenes of fake fighting, guns and gang signs do cast the school in a bad light. The students shouldn’t have posted the video in the first place.
With that being said, 10 days’ suspension is far too harsh, especially for high school seniors looking to get into college. They will miss time from school and this incident could show up on their permanent record.
Finally, we have no idea why the police and prosecutor’s office were called in, unless it was for the act of trespassing.
In summary, we’d love to see the school admins find a way to set things right in cases such as this one without suspending students or involving the police. It seems that it would have been easily doable in this case.
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