Last week a Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School teacher was fired for engaging in inappropriate communications with his students. Although the details of the teacher’s firing are not entirely clear, the incident brings to light a topic of significant concern in the area of modern child protection –technology is changing the mode of communication and the boundaries between adults in positions of authority and mentorship, and the children they interact with on a daily basis.
Computers are an inherent part of modern life and smart phones have become the norm for kids as young as elementary school. Those things aren’t going away, nor should they. But with these devices come the internet, e-mail, social media, texting, photo-sharing apps and more. And through this technology adults have unprecedented access to children, making the task of monitoring who our kids are communicating with more involved and more important than ever. Gone are the times when a parent who wanted to find out who his or her child was talking to simply picked up on the other line and listened.
Parents need to be aware of the dangers that the anonymity of modern communication poses and the virtual preying ground it creates for those who seek to win over, befriend, and ultimately harm our children. Many children won’t volunteer information that a teacher has contacted them through Facebook, or that a coach has been texting them, or that an adult has been trying to send them photos. But this information matters so don’t hesitate to ask.