Pam Broviak is going to teach a lesson about personal accountability like a responsible parent should. Her method may be unconventional. Pam Broviak is suing her daughter’s school district for violating her daughter’s privacy, and the mean old adults at the middle school will learn the hard way about accepting personal accountability for their actions. Don’t mess with the privacy of a 13 year old Broviak.
Here’s the back story. After an incident at school, administrators asked the student to pull up her Facebook page so that they could view the contents. Broviak’s daughter complied; however, the daughter became “embarrassed and very upset” by the perceived invasion of privacy and is traumatized by the entire experience.
The mother explains that because of this breach, her precious child has learned the painful lesson that “you can’t trust anyone”. As we know, that is a lesson most of us don’t have to learn until we buy our first used car, and by that point, we are emotionally equipped. Poor little Broviak is barely a teen.
During an investigation, officials at this middle school admit that they do ask students to show them their Facebook postings or text messages from their cell phones. They do not ask for passwords for future access. They do not randomly search all electronic media looking for students who may have strayed from the path of righteousness. During the course of an investigation in which they have reason to believe the student might have knowledge, they request to see what’s on their personal wall.
Yes, there is a risk that information beyond the scope of the school administrators’ investigation could be revealed during such an event. The girl’s Facebook page could have details of a personal or family illness or other personal activities that while legal, are of a morally questionable nature. That is certainly possible although school administrators are not the student’s employer or a disinterested party.
Ms. Broviak has referred to these incidents of Facebook viewing by school officials as “abuse”. I respectfully disagree. The only abuse here is being perpetrated by the mother. Failure to teach a 13 year old child that Facebook postings are not private is abuse. If Ms. Broviak was caught passing a note from one desk to another back during her heyday in the 1980s, would she have claimed privacy as a reason not to hand over the note? Hmm, come to think of it, she probably would have.
The three lessons that her daughter should have gotten at home are as follows: choose your friends carefully; respect authority figures in school; before you hit ‘send’ on any electronic device, imagine the words on the front page of the New York Times. If you would be ashamed, don’t send/post it.
Privacy is a 20th century construct. The Internet of the 21st century is a public forum. Young Broviak needs to learn that lesson now before it’s too late.
Protect children, yes. Coddle them, no. That is my free lesson for parents, and if you know Pam Broviak, feel free to pass it along to her. This posting is not private.