Parents are “ropeable” after an unethical social media experiment backfired at a private girls’ school in Christchurch.
According to a report by Stuff.co.nz, staff at St Margaret’s College helped Year 12 students set up social media accounts on a variety of media platforms. The accounts were established as part of a “health project” on cyber safety and citizenship.
As part of the project, Year 10 students were “individually invited to a Snapchat account called “Merrivale Gossip Girl”, where they used the photo messaging service to share personal information.They did so unaware that teachers controlled the account.
Understandably, once the girls found out the account was part of a school project they felt “tricked”. Their parents aren’t too happy either.:
A source close to the school said parents were “ropeable” about what happened.
There had been talk about how it had upset already fragile young women and parents were talking amongst themselves about what action could be taken.
In a statement, executive principal Gillian Simpson said year 12 students had conducted research projects as part of their NCEA health studies for several years.
Some of the projects involved creating and monitoring social media accounts to help students and their parents or caregivers better understand the risks of inappropriate online communications… read on
Ironically, the school’s principal couldn’t discuss the nature of the complaints raised by parents due to privacy reasons. Its a shame the same sentiments weren’t expressed when the project was devised, nor when “precious” pupils were “individually invited” to use the Snapchat account without any knowledge of who was behind it, or why.
In a letter from Simpson, to ‘allay’ parents’ concerns on Tuesday, it appears that some victim blaming may now be going on. Apparently its their daughters’ fault for their “inappropriate and unkind use of social media”
“There is some interesting data for us as a school and you as parents to understand.
“There has also been some upset and anxiety particularly from girls who have actively shared information. The learnings are hard hitting in some cases.”
Simpson said in the letter that a parent evening was planned for Monday with a panel of experts and chaired by her.
“We are in partnership with you in addressing the serious implications and potentially devastating results of inappropriate and unkind use of social media by your daughters.
“Please keep communicating with us. Your daughters are so precious to us all.”
There is no mention in the Stuff article if ethics approval was sought for the project, which looks like an experiment that involved minors without their consent. nor is there any clue as to what ethics actually means in New Zealand.
What happened to schools being safe places in which children feel empowered, nurtured and encouraged to develop into well rounded adults?
No wonder the victims are feeling aggrieved. Perhaps they should look for another fee paying school?
You may also be interested in