As part of Digital Citizenship Week, administrators across the Holy Family Catholic Regional Division (HFCRD) are visiting every class to warn students about the consequences of posting inappropriate things online. Most times students do not realize the serious consequences that can come from posting online, which is why it is important that we as a division be proactive in teaching students about these consequences. These situations are on the rise so I personally feel communicating these consequences to everyone in our school communities is important to do our part in preventing these situations from happening.
When a student posts something online about harming others, these situations are taken very seriously at HFCRD. Even though the student may have posted as joke, the post is often shared widely across a school community sometimes causing panic or fear. As educational professionals, our primary concern is the safety and mental health of all student(s) involved. In these situations, we will contact the local RCMP and after receiving their professional advice, we may need to temporarily close the school. Depending on the severity of the threat, the RCMP could take the child into custody and continue with their own investigation that could have serious long term consequences for that student. Internally, the Principal of the school will meet with the child and possibly his/her parents. The Principal will ensure the necessary supports are in place for that child which can include mental health professionals. The Principal will likely recommend that student be expelled from school. From there, the student with his or her parents must attend a disciplinary hearing with the Board of Trustees and the Superintendent where they will decide the disciplinary action that will be taken. If the student is permitted to re-enter school, the transition is often very uncomfortable considering the public nature of the situation. With time, we hope the student will become comfortable again.
When a child makes the mistake of posting something online that they will regret, our primary job as Catholic role models is to demonstrate understanding. One day a student may feel angry or sad and be tempted to post something online that they will regret. My hope is that they will remember what their Principal said this week and stop themselves before making a big mistake. Instead, that child should talk to someone they trust about what is making them angry or sad. Face-to-face communication is almost always a more effective resolution than digital communication. If you are a parent reading this information, I encourage you to have a conversation with your child(ren) about the consequences of irresponsible digital citizenship. Please join us in our mission of preventing these situations from arising.
Yours in Christ,