Managing Social Networking
Source: The Safety and Security Directorate, Crime Prevention Newsletter, Issue 2, 2011
The way people communicate via social networking can be an issue for schools. Facebook is the most popular social networking site at present, however, there are others such as Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning and Orkut. An expectation often exists that schools stop conflict, bullying and harassment of students via social networking even though it often takes place outside school hours. The duty of a school to its students is not necessarily measured or limited by the fact that the bell has rung and students have left school grounds.
What can schools do about it?
Schools can deal with this behaviour provided there is a clear and close connection between the school and the conduct of students. Action on cyberbullying occurs in the same way bullying or harassment in the classroom or playground is managed under the school's discipline or anti-bullying policies. Where warranted this could include disciplinary action.
(See Student Discipline on the Student Welfare Directorate intranet site: https://detwww.det.nsw.edu.au/lists/directoratesaz/stuwelfare/studiscipline/index.htm)
An effective response to bullying behaviour requires a partnership between parents, students, education providers and others. The Bullying: Preventing and Responding to Student Bullying in Schools Policy focuses on protection, prevention, early intervention and response strategies for student bullying.
Managing Facebook incidents
Students may make comments on Facebook that go against the agreement they have with Facebook. Schools should be aware of the following aspects of the Facebook agreement.
Facebook users must not:
· be under the age of 13 years
· provide false personal information or create an account for anyone else without permission.
· create more than one personal profile
· share passwords, let anyone else access your account or do anything that may jeopardise the security of your account
· upload viruses or other malicious code
· solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else
· bully, intimidate or harass any user
· post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, incites violence or contains nudity or graphic gratuitous violence
· do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious or discriminatory
· tag users or send email invitations to non-users without their consent
· post content or take action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else's rights or otherwise violates the law
· post anyone's identification documents or sensitive financial information
· facilitate or encourage any violations of the agreement.
Facebook can disable an account or remove any content or information if they believe it violates the agreement. Once an account has been disabled users must not create another account without the permission of Facebook.
The entire Facebook agreement can be located at http://www.facebook.com/terms.php .
What should happen when a student reports that they are being harassed on Facebook
1. View the transcript of what has been posted.
2. Identify the person who has engaged in that behaviour.
3. If it is threatening or inciting violence, notify local police and the School Safety and Response hotline.
4. Determine if it is school-related.
5. Retain a copy of the comments page (if possible).
6. Contact parents of the students concerned.
7. After speaking with the Police (where the incident has been reported to them) instruct the student who has engaged in that behaviour to remove the posting.
8. Advise the student who has complained to block the offender.
9. Engage the school's anti-bullying policy where appropriate. This could include taking appropriate disciplinary action against the offender(s) if it is school-related.
10. Ensure the student who is the subject of the behaviour (or his or her parents) reports the harassment to Facebook.
11. Provide support for the victim.
Reporting an offensive comment on Facebook
Only people with a Facebook account can report offensive material. To report a comment:
1. Run cursor along the comment, level with name until an ‘X' appears in the top right corner of the comment.
2. Click on the ‘X'.
3. Click ‘Report post or spam".
4. Click ‘Report it as abuse'.
5. Make selection and continue.
6. In the ‘What you can do box' make the appropriate selection and ensure you click ‘Report to Facebook' before continuing
Advice for students who are attacked on Facebook or other sites
1. Don't respond. Bullies like getting a response.
2. Tell someone. Use Facebook's Trusted Friend tool to send a copy of the abuse to someone you trust and who can help. This also generates a report to Facebook.
3. Document or save the content as it may be needed as evidence.
4. If you are feeling upset – talk to someone about how you are feeling. If you want to do this anonymously contact the Kids Helpline.
A false Facebook profile has been set up in a teacher's name
Report the fake profile to Facebook.
1. Click on "Report/Block this Person" on bottom left of the profile.
2. Select "Fake profile" as the reason and add relevant information.
3. Print the false profile page and save its contents.
4. Report the content to the school
A "goss" page has been set up using the school's name
"Goss" (or gossip) pages tend to be set up by students or ex-students and can generally be viewed by anyone. Offensive material on these pages should be reported through the reporting feature on Facebook.
1. Keep a copy of the page. If it is possible that a criminal offence has been committed contact the police and seek their advice before further action is taken.
2. Report the content to the school
Educating young people about the use of social networking sites
Digital Education Revolution NSW focuses on digital safety and digital citizenship, including: keeping safe online, understanding and dealing with cyberbullying, privacy and password security and the ethical and responsible use of technology.
Resources and information for students, parents and teachers has been provided by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Materials can be located at
Additional information can be found at:
Bullying. No way! Website: www.bullyingnoway.com.au/
Childnet International www.childnet.com
Connect Safely www.connectsafely.org
Safety & Security Directorate
164 Walters Rd, Blacktown, NSW
(PO Box 1044, Blacktown, 2148)
Ph: 02 9672 2064