After the tragic death last week of 12-year old Rebecca Ann Sedwick of Lakeland, Florida, who committed suicide after being “absolutely terrorized on social media,” her mother, Tricia Normank, said that her daughter’s school should have done more to help her. A school district in Southern California has done just that. The Glendale Unified School District is spending $40,000 to have a private firm monitor and comb the social lives of its 14,000 middle and high schoolers for signs of suicide, obscenities or comments to bully fellow students.
Glendale’s initiative, although the idea isn’t rare, has in fact, caused suspision and much media attention, partly because of the price tag and because of its systematic approach. Geo Listening (the company hired to scour the social life of students at Glendale) didn’t say how many schools they are currently working with, but say that they expect to be monitoring about 3,000 schools around the world by the end of the year.
Along with such a policy comes many arguments, the most important ones being whether it will work or not, and at what cost. There is a privacy concern and students need to know that their school is monitoring kids without telling them. There are also liability issues and mroe issues. Critics claim that “it might be a better use of $40,000 to hire a good guidance counselor.”
To gain a more accurate view of the situation surrounding this new event, check out http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/09/17/223185991/why-spying-on-our-kids-to-solve-cyberbullying-might-not-work