This is a very interesting Wall Street Journal article about how schools are dealing with the quickly increasing number of students that keep online "blogs" or personal web-sites. On these sites they may talk about fellow students, teachers, administrators or their school in general. As one might suspect some of the postings can have the harsh and possibly rash tone that young people are well known to possess at times. People most definitely mellow with age and experience and schools have since the beginning of education had to learn how to deal with young adults becoming increasingly vocal in their views.
At school there are no second guess that the students can't just say anything they like at anytime they want, the rules become less obvious once the student walks out of the hallowed halls of their educational institution. The question of the day for schools is simple Do they punish a student who posts to a public website via directing posting (as I do here) or through comments on another website, statements that are hurtful, vulgar, offensive or harmful about other students, teachers and so on?
This question is not just one for schools, parents and students but also for the courts. It's a legal question that seems to be dancing all over the legal landscape. Some courts are allowing schools to punish students for off-campus postings, while other courts are awarding damages to students that were punished. The level of vulgarity is less of an issue it seems in these decisions, and more of the rights of schools to protect their charges and staff compared to the rights of the individual, visa-a-vie the first amendment.
My step-daughter to be keeps a personal blog on Myspace as well as one I created for her, so this is a concern for me before I even get to the meat of the issue which is, does she use the site to blast fellow students or her teachers.
The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has posted a FAQ for students on this very issue. The FAQ, which is interesting reading, is available at their website at: