By Holly Fallon, edited for online by Nicholas Chin.
A Queensland primary school principal has announced she will expel any children under the age of 13 who refuse to delete their Facebook account.
Toowoomba’s Harlaxton State School principal Leonie Hultgren advised parents many students under 13 provide a false date of birth to join social networking site, Facebook.
She says the school will not tolerate any child who did not adhere to Facebook’s age guidelines.
Cyber safety expert Susan Mcleod was contacted by the principal for advice and believes the principle should be commended on her active concerns.
“Teachers are the last line of defense. If a child can’t make a good decision and won’t care about their online safety and a parent refuses, then the teachers have to act,” Ms Mcleod said.
“I think she is absoloutely correct in what she is doing and I support her 100 per cent
“A majority of parents are supporting it but there was a minority that basically just wrote the most foul and disgusting comments and berated the principal
“Those parents need to have a good hard look at themselves.”
Ms Mcleod said she is outraged by these parent comments, and outlined the legal rights involved.
“There’s a lot that the schools can do,” she said.
“They don’t have to get the parent permission, they don’t even have to tell the parents what they are doing. They can just report the underage students and let Facebook do the rest.”
Queensland Association of State Schools President Hilary Backus has also shown support for Ms Hultgren.
She said teachers have a responsibility to care for their students.
“She has a duty of care to all the children in her school in conjunction with all of her staff,” she said.
“So when student safety is concerned, I think she is quite within her powers and rights to do so.”
QUT Associate Professor of Education Marilyn Campbell blames the digital divide between parents and children.
She says this generation gap is failing parents who cannot see how prevalent cyber bullying has become.
“I think that parents are actually responsible for bringing up their children with help from their school and not the other way around,” Professor Campbell said.
The Queensland Education Department Director for Toowoomba Greg Dickman says he is in full support and grants all power to teachers when disciplining their students on these issues.