Middle school principal's (non) helpful email to parents about social media


Looks like somebody took a flying leap into the ‘failure to understand that online bullying is typically an extension of the bullying already happening on site, by other means’ pit and continued digging furiously.

Yeah, sure, it’s middle school, a brutal, dystopian, lord-of-the-flies social hellzone. Guess what, that’s not because of instagram…


As a Brit, I really don’t see the problem…The teacher is warning about stuff that the sites might do if they discover a user is under age. That’s a good thing to warn about and school principals don’t get to make laws.They warn about online abuse, which is a real thing and does upset some kids, sometimes to a tragic level. This is a responsible teacher warning against a real problem.

Then the self righteous writer of the article goes overboard.The teachers aren’t trying to ban this use, they can’t anyway, so in what way is it interfering with the way you raise your kids ?The laws are a bit out of date but not as wholly awful as the mildly hysterical article implies, but you voted (or didn’t bother) for a set of politicians of left or right so corrupt that in most democracies they’d be in jail. The school then quite properly says they have people to counsel kids if they get bullied or whatever.

The sort of kid you raise by having parents who get hysterical when they see a gently worded mild warning is the sort that is most likely to need 3rd party help.

My own kids routinely ignore age restrictions, with a caveat, they ask me first.

…or I guess they do.The trick is to raise kids smarter than you, one day that means they win.


Memory is always faulty, but it seems to me that when I was a kid my friends and I spent a lot of time playing games that involved pretending to be grownups. It was, among other things, a way to imagine how we’d handle situations we believed we’d encounter. Sometimes that even included dealing with hurtful sayings–or even actions. It was, I think, a way of preparing ourselves for adulthood, and a school principal should know that.

If social media is another place where kids can engage in that kind of playing then it should be encouraged.


I am not sure Jason knows what a Strawman Argument is, because that is not one, but other than that pet peeve of mine, I like his thinkin’.

And to carry through with his (perhaps misguided) belief that the only valid criticism is one where you propose an alternative, I’ll say he should’ve said this:

“The thing that bothered me most about starting this email with a mention of Instagram’s terms of service was that it was a non sequitur, a distraction from the real point she’s trying to make, which comes next…”

…but yeah, I am all sorts of on board with parents paying frickin’ attention to the apps their kids are using and not freaking out with overly-precious treacle like “they grow up so fast!”

Is there a special term for an argument about children that applies to the biases of parents? Cuz that’d be useful. :slight_smile:


Came to say the same thing, and also to note that kids who face, and survive a certain amount of bullying can emerge stronger and more resilient. Parents can facilitate this. But trying to provide kids with egg-crate levels of protection may only ensure they grow up as fragile as eggs.

Like the immune system thing, but words.

And the one’s that don’t can be scarred for life or dead. Is that really worth “immunizing” the ones that survive what can be a living hell? And even the ones who are stronger can still carry baggage from that. It’s like saying child abuse can toughen a kid up…

Let’s not justify bad behavior. I’m sure that’s not what you meant to do, but that’s how it came out.


Do you have a source for this claim? What brought you to this conclusion?


Better put on your asbestos suit, my friend.

Er, but actually what I came here to say is that I grew up in the 60s wearing exactly those glasses.

My dad picked them out by taking me to the glasses store and asking “what glasses will fit this kid that you have a whole lot of spare parts in stock for?”


On the other hand, if my kid’s teacher told me

“I use a cell phone jammer in the classroom so we can concentrate on learning. If you have an emergency, call the school office at (phone number)”

I would buy his/her family dinner at the best restaurant in town, or donate the equivalent in school supplies to that classroom. If we were both single, I might propose.


Why? Because I asked for clarification on a pretty bold claim? Honestly, the irony of your comment is not lost on me.

However. I’m actually really curious where @Boundegar got this information, or if it’s just his own inference. There are a lot of fucked up views about bullying, and most of it is learned.

If you break Boundegar’s comment down, what he seems to be implying is that VIOLENCE (which is what bullying is) is beneficial to children. And that’s really troublesome.

The conclusion that being exposed to violence at a young age can cause a lot of harm isn’t controversial. I just don’t understand why that knowledge suddenly gets forgotten when the subject of bullies comes up, Here. Some information on violence against children:


Most people would agree that witnessing or being a victim of abuse and violence at a young age can be very harmful. And that’s what bullying IS.

And not only that, but: Being okay with children experiencing bullying, up to even advocating for it as a means to “make kids stronger”, means you are, in essence, okay with the existence of bullies, and of human beings inflicting violence on other human beings.

Sometimes in this conversation, the bullies themselves aren’t really talked about. They are othered, almost made into monsters that aren’t like those other kids who are being bullied.

These are human beings! Why do these human beings harm other people? And why are other people so very much okay with humans abusing others, even if it’s masked under “oh, it’ll make the victim stronger in the long run!”??

It’s actually very similar to why I really, really hate the whole “hahaha now he’s going to go to go prison and get raped in the butt!” joke when we talk about rapists. It’s responding to violence with yet more violence, and it’s being okay with making a human a rapist, merely to punish another human.

In this case, it’s not to punish, but to “toughen up” kids. So you want to create bullies and have human beings inflict pain on other humans merely to “toughen up” some kids? How fucked up is THAT worldview?

It just sounds like the cycle of abuse, to me.


Overboard? Really? All the principal had to do was use the phrase “foster a child-like perspective which produces imaginative play and a sociable personality, both of which allow my kids to be kids and provide a good foundation for being a successful, functioning adult. The rate at which children mature physically, mentally, and emotionally, is highly individualized. Some kids just grow up faster than others” instead of saying “Let them stay young as long as we can”.



Maybe I’m wrong. My son learned from a karate instructor how to handle bullies, (and he didn’t learn to punch them - only to be fearless.) He also was taught that kids who look weak and fearful are bully magnets.

Where do we draw the line between self-defense and victim-blaming? It seems like, for some people, any suggestion that anybody can be strong is profoundly offensive. It’s like Harrison Bergeron.

EDIT: The Vonnegut story, not the philosopher, about whom I know nothing.


Not all children are going to want to take Karate, and not all children are going to be able to defend themselves. Are those children somehow weaker (not in the physical sense, but in the human sense)? Somehow less deserving of protection? Do those children just deserve the violence?

Teaching a kid who wants to learn self defense is fine, but be reasonable. It sounds like your father was. But not all children are going to be able to defend themselves, and they are important, too. And we need to focus on WHY bullies are bullies, and try to prevent bullying. Not just shrug and say “hey it’ll make you stronger!”.


Isn’t this like, highly, highly illegal? That’s precisely the kind of irresponsible and selfish behavior that gets teachers fired.

Unfortunately, yes.

So is possessing 1/4 ounce of marijuana in my state. So is using Calibre to remove the DRM from my Kindle purchases.

Turning a classroom into a cell-free zone would IMO have far more benefit to society than either of the above.

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I think the issue is this:
This has nothing to do with the school.
Instagram is an app on a personal phone given to a student by their guardian. That’s the person that needs to be thinking/learning/paying attention to all this stuff. So what the school really could be doing, if they were so inclined, is running sessions for parents to help them learn about this stuff.
But that’d require:

  1. Knowing anything about this stuff themselves
  2. Having staff that will/could teach this sort of thing
  3. Having a parent group willing to take part
    None of which are givens.
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Unfortunately, it isn’t legal to engineer a line of killer macrophages tuned to go into a killing frenzy when exposed to the surface proteins of bullies; and then deploy them. A pity really; but tis true.


Films! Television! Board Games! Computer Games! Subversive Literature! Non conformist clothing!

#It’s not our fault problem!

I was talking about glasses.

Mine got broken a lot. Usually by my own clumsiness, sometimes by bullies. I always survived, although occasionally with broken bones or a concussion.

Hey, you know what did more harm to my children than any bully ever did? Self-righteous, anti-bullying crusaders. We were lucky. My son survived; not all do.