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The Role of Social Media: Judge and Jury?

By       Message Reza varjavand     Permalink
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From opednews.com/populum/uploadphotos/s_300_i_ytimg_com_1_GwOEfyimWsQ_hqdefault_562.gif: Outrage After Video Surfaces of Officer Dragging Teen Student from Desk
Outrage After Video Surfaces of Officer Dragging Teen Student from Desk
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Because of the widespread use of social media, cell phones, and the Internet, many critical issues these days are hastily settled online through unpolished public opinions based on half-true information and mere observation. Emotion will often override wisdom and common sense. A case in point I am referring to is the story of a high school student being forcefully removed from a classroom by a school security officer. A video of the event went viral on the Internet and created a massive backlash.

As an educator with more than 30 years of experience in classroom teaching, I know how important it is for the students, some of whom pay dearly for their education, to learn and to benefit while in the classroom and how the right environment is instrumental to their learning. It is imperative that the rules of classroom etiquette be respected by all students. Disruptive behavior on the part of one student can gravely cost others and should not be tolerated by the teacher who is expected to be in charge and create an environment conducive to teaching and learning. Disruptive conduct precludes other students from exercising their right to obtain an education which they are entitled to and have paid for.

If you park your car on my property and prevent me from exercising my ownership privilege, I definitely have every right to remove your car. Likewise, disruptive behavior in a classroom prohibits students from exercising their right to an education and thus the perpetrator must be removed from the classroom, after other options are exhausted. Most students are very considerate and disciplined. I have never had a student whose disruptive behavior prompted me to ask him or her to leave the classroom let alone to call the security officer to remove the student by force. I sincerely sympathize with the teacher in the above Internet scenario and I am sure he or she had asked for the removal of the student as a last resort. I surmise that the behavior of the student had been so disruptive that the teacher was left with no choice other than to ask for the student's removal.

Anyone who comes into a classroom to learn is a student and will be equally treated like one regardless of who he or she is. A student may be a popular athlete, a cool dormitory dude, or an important business person; however, when he or she is in a classroom, that person assumes the role of student and should be treated like other students. A student should not use personal status, gender, or race as an excuse for gaining preferential treatment or engaging in disruptive conduct.

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And yes, it is part of parental responsibility to instill high ethical values in their children so that they learn how to respect others, especially the law enforcement officials, behave cordially when in public places, and follow the rules and directions of officials. A classroom is like a social club; once you enter, you should obey the rules and regulations that are designed to protect all the members.

Browbeaten same scenario gets played over and over. A young person decides to test his or her luck by engaging in controversial behavior, resisting law enforcement authorities, someone in class takes a video and posts it on social media, and then along comes a rent-seeking lawyer who will bring about a law suit. Sometimes, I cannot help but think that the whole thing is a deliberate plot so that a lawsuit can be brought and someone fishes the foolishness of that system. In general, social media has become an extremely strong court of public opinion that seems to be jeopardizing the long-held principle that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago. He has been an avid participant in many professional organizations and active in (more...)
 

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