School Bans Social Websites

This is week-and-a-half-old news, however it struck a nerve so I figured I’d post it. According to this article on App.com, Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, NJ is threatening students to make them stop participating in social networking with websites such as MySpace, Facebook and Xanga. The article states:

Effective immediately, and over student complaints, the teens were told to dismantle their Myspace.com accounts or similar sites with personal profiles and blogs. Defy the order and face suspension, students were told.

While public and private schools routinely block access to noneducational Web sites on school computers, Pope John’s order reaches into students’ homes.

The primary impetus behind the ban is to protect students, McHugh said. The Web sites, popular forums for students to blog about their lives and feelings about their teachers and schools, are fertile ground for sexual predators to gather information about children, he said.

While it seems like the school is trying to protect its students, they are going about it the wrong way. Its a violation of free speech to police the students in this way. Educating the students about the dangers of a web presence would be a more reasonable approach.