Missouri Bans Teacher-Student Friendships On Facebook

By Jennifer Moire Comment

Soon, Missouri teachers won’t be able to send nor accept student friend requests on Facebook — or any other social network.

Missouri Senate Bill 54 — which goes into effect on August 28 — is an effort to “more clearly define teacher-student boundaries.”

However, according to ABC News, only direct social media contact is prohibited; teachers are allowed to create Facebook pages where all students have direct access to the teacher in a more transparent format.

The point of the new law is to protect students from sexual assault in Missouri schools. The bill, also known as the “Amy Hestir Student Protection Act,” is named for a Missouri woman who was continually molested and assaulted by her junior high school teacher. The teacher was employed by several school districts, and was even recognized as a “Teacher of the Year.”

The new legislation also makes a school district liable if it doesn’t disclose in a reference check that a teacher was dismissed or left a position due to sexual misconduct.

How this new law will be enforced isn’t clear. And technically, students and teachers can still connect on Facebook through pages, granted it’s a more open platform. Would the social networking provision in the law have protected Amy Hestir from the abuse she suffered?

The bottom line is that any law that aims to protect students online, and those young people who are over the age of 13 and on Facebook, is a good thing. This is an effort worth monitoring. Do you agree, readers?