Social Media and the Community

Mr Andrew Hawkins – Deputy Headmaster and Head of Senior School

The recent incident involving some Year 9 boys at a fellow Private School on the Coast was very well publicised. As an educator and a parent, my heart sank when I heard the news and it certainly put the inconvenience of Norovirus that we have had to deal with into perspective. There are so many issues on so many levels that could occur at any school at any time. Risk taking behaviours -the ease at which legal and illegal transactions can occur over the internet – as well as images of events being posted on social media, while it is happening are three big issues surrounding this event. As I said, any of these things could happen at any school or home for that matter, at any time, and it was a relief to hear yesterday that the boys involved in the incident have made a full recovery.

Another issue that came to my attention was how quickly the School involved had the unwelcomed experience where members of their school community, parents or former parents in each case, used either their personal Social Media site or, in one case set up a site in the name of the College to publish negative opinion about the College, staff, and in some cases the students.

Reflecting upon this, it led to the perfect opportunity to remind our community that these comments are of course counterproductive to essential positive relationships schools must maintain with parents and community. As social media has become the main forum of communication for many, but the dangers of misuse in communicating derogatory opinions or sharing personal information may well be unknown to parents and families, making this a good time to remind us all of our role as members of this great community.

Not only are negative comments and posts divisive for our community, they may also breach our own Community Code of Conduct. In very extreme cases, that we as a community have never had to deal with, these comments can raise legal issues under a School’s enrolment contract, as well as those that may arise under Defamation Law, or even the new Breach of Privacy offences which came into effect this year on February 22 for Schools.

We are an approachable school that welcomes feedback in many different forms so please feel free to contact the school via myself, the Deans or your son’s Housemaster or Sport Director should you feel the need to comment on a situation should the need arrive.

Of course, Social Media is not all bad. It is crucial for connecting all of our students, particularly our isolated boarders, with their families every day. Events such as GPS Swimming on Friday night can be posted across the world as the races occur. With the sad news from Queensland Health that we cannot send spectators on Friday night we will rely even more on Social Media to update the boys and the community of the results.

All the best to TSS Aquatic Swimmers, Coaches and Parents for GPS Swimming 2018. Whether we win, lose or draw be sure to ‘like’ the result because in true TSS fashion the boys will give it their all.

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