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Do local high schools need social media policies?

Social media is hugely popular for high school students, but one police officer suggests limiting access.

The Treasure Valley officer suggested students wait until age 16 to start a page, and limit it to 200 friends. He says that could alleviate cyber bullying.

Shelley School District is in the process of creating a social media policy.
In the past, many schools have said they can’t do much about what happens outside of school hours. Shelley High School does address it.

“We have had instances where is a kid is bullied on Facebook outside of school, and how we have taken care of that is if it affects educational environment or disrupts the educational process…. We have had instances where the student has been suspended,” said Shaun Messick, assistant principal at Shelley High School.

The district in the process of creating an official social media and cyber bullying policy.

“It’s such a large area, they’re (the school board) really struggling trying to condense it down to something do-able, we don’t want a 40-page document,” said Dr. Bryan Jolley, superintendent of Shelley School District.

For now, schools use a filter that blocks certain pages, like Facebook. Cellphones, however, are allowed during the school day. Students with a data plan can access the websites as long as they aren’t connected to WiFi. Messick said that Facebook itself isn’t the problem, unless it becomes a distraction or a form of bullying.

In fact, social media can be a good thing. Shelley High School shares news and sports on their Facebook page.

Some teachers are using websites to reach students.

“We encourage teachers to use Facebook if they have a page for their class, but to be very careful with that. They can use it to talk to kids about homework and things like that.”

Another positive is students identifying and reporting dangerous situations.

“If they see something out there, maybe they hear rumblings about students struggling, thinking about self-destructive behavior, kids have been really good to come in, so a way social media has helped,” said Dr. Jolley.

Messick says that in the new policy, education is more important than new rules.

“We live in America and we are trying to teach our kids we want freedom and we can’t limit everything … so I think just educating kids, you know what are you putting out there on Facebook,” he said.

There hasn’t been any reports of cyberbullying at Shelley High this year.
The school district has not set a date for finishing the policy.

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