Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently signed a bill that prohibits teachers and students from “friending” each other on Facebook. KSPR, an ABC affiliate in Springfield, Mo., reports that Senate Bill 54 forbids any kind of social networking activity between teachers and students in which they might exchange “private” online communication. However, the law does not prohibit all teacher-student contact online. ABC says that teachers can set up fan pages that are open to the public, and students can “like” their page.
According to Governor Nixon’s website, the bill, also known as the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, is meant to protect “children from sexual misconduct by a teacher.” Hestir, now an adult, was sexually abused by her teacher when she was 13.
Not all Missouri teachers are on board with the bill. Randy Turner, a teacher in Joplin, Mo., blogs that the bill overrides an important outcome of teacher-student correspondence on Facebook. On The Turner Report, he writes:
For some students, that move could very well prevent them from confiding in a trusted adult friend who might be able to help them get through serious problems in their lives. For Joplin students, that could be dealing with the aftermath of losing their homes and having their lives uprooted on May 22. For others, it may be confiding in just the kind of horrific crime that the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act is supposedly designed to eliminate.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.