Yesterday the UK’s Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) demanded sites such as YouTube to be closed, for encouraging CyberBullying.
Proposed by Kirsti Paterson at the national conference held in Harrogate, the motion was “Conference deplores the very real problem of cyber bullying in schools and demands the closure of sites encouraging such behaviour.”
I don’t think there’s any right thinking person who wouldn’t agree with the first part of the proposal. Clearly bullying of any type is to be deplored.
The second is a little more impractical.
The conference proposal spoke of problems of videos of teachers taken without their knowledge using mobile phones and posted online; derogatory comments being posted by pupils to site such as RateMyTeacher; and “use of MSN messenger – pupils contacting one another, sometimes using insulting language and the resulting bad feeling is brought into school.”
Overall it sounds like the teachers are finding that the pupils are streets ahead of them in the use of the technologies, and are ending up on the wrong end of it. Even if the teachers were as tuned up, they’re hardly likely to go around being as immature as some of the school children.
What’s to be done?
Well, even if the vote did go in favour of the motion (it did), it’s not going to make a blind bit of difference to the viability of YouTube.
As Emma-Jane Cross, chief executive of the charity Beatbullying, said to the BBC, “Calls for social networking sites like YouTube to be closed because of cyberbullying are as intelligent as calls for schools to be closed because of bullying.”
What it does raise is the question on privacy and whether the mass availability of digital still and video cameras will cause the rethinking of ones image being under your own control.
The posting of a photo or a video – particularly against the wishes of the person in it – needs to be thought about.