Friday, March 7, 2014

The attack of the Yaks

No, this is not a new Dr. Seuss story. The administration at Saint Andrew's school sent out the following email to students concerning the Yik Yak threat.  JJ has learned administrations at other local schools have taken similar actions.  Going too far or not far enough? Read for yourself and decide.

Dear St. Andrew's Parents,

The intrusive and pervasive nature of social media is an issue that faces all of us -- students, parents, and families.

Many of you may have heard of a new computer app called Yik Yak which allows anonymous postings.  Schools all over Jackson and the country are confronting the difficulties caused by this app. Many of the postings on this app not only are obscene, but they talk about specific people in harmful and hurtful ways.

Today I spoke to all 7th through 12th graders about the school's policy regarding this app, and my comments are attached.  In addition, attached is a letter to you explaining more about Yik Yak and what we are advising you to do.  Ms. Hollis will talk separately to the 5th and 6th graders.  I ask that you read these statements, and your full cooperation is appreciated.

In brief,  St. Andrew's students are NOT to have the Yik Yak app on their phone.  Phones will be checked at school, and we are asking you to check your child's phone also.  Nothing good can come from your child having this app on their phone, and we ask your cooperation to protect your child and other students from the many, current abuses of this app. 

Please let me know if you have any questions.   


George Penick
Head of School
St. Andrew's Episcopal School


Anonymous said...

Well, they could do nothing about it and face complaints by parents that they are allowing bullying to take place via this app...

At the next "Responsible Social Media Use" seminar, someone needs to explain to these children the power of a subpoena.

Anonymous said...

Never heard of this app. However, social media has made the world a much uglier place and all at the speed of light.

Anonymous said...

Not saying the app is a positive but typical way over-the-top Penick to think he has the power to ban an app on any phone. Wish he was this aggressive with the rampant drug and alcohol usage.

Anonymous said...

Too far.

Anonymous said...

Spoke to a teacher at Madison Central... this App has blown up there. Horrible horrible things floating around.

I HATE anonymity the internet... but LOVE irony. ;)

Anonymous said...

St. Joe sent a similar message, though not with any threat of checking students' phones (I am vaguely curious whether that violates a federal statute, but only vaguely).

Letter from St. Joe pasted below.

Dear St. Joseph Parents:

The administration would like to inform you of a new app for iOS (iPhone, iPad or iPod) and Android devices that is of much concern. The app is called Yik Yak, and according to its creators, it is designed for students on college campuses to make anonymous comments that can be read by anyone within a five-mile radius. However, in its short life thus far, Yik Yak has been responsible for several acts of cyberbullying and cybercrimes.

The St. Joseph Catholic School administration has been following news about Yik Yak and monitoring for its presence on our campus for the past three weeks. Unfortunately, late this past week, we became aware that our community has discovered the app and has begun to use it inappropriately.

The app is designed so that ANYONE can post about ANYTHING or ANYONE completely ANONYMOUSLY. Even worse, one does not “follow” or “friend” certain accounts on Yik Yak; EVERYONE can see this posting within a five-mile radius. As you might expect, this gives young people the perfect opportunity to say whatever they want without any filter whatsoever because the fear of normal repercussions is completely removed. Although the developers of the app claim to have an anti-bullying stance, they certainly do not seem to care that the app is becoming the most effective bullying platform that social media has to offer.

Yik Yak has already wreaked havoc in the secondary schools in Mobile, Alabama, when death threats were anonymously posted. Due to the illegal nature of such comments, the district attorney was able to acquire information about the poster and has been able to make arrests based on that information.

St. Joseph Catholic School’s Harassment Policy and Technology Acceptable Use Policy strictly prohibit the type of negative posts that may appear on Yik Yak. However, despite hours of conversation and great concern about this app, the administration at St. Joseph cannot effectively monitor the use of Yik Yak or pursue disciplinary action for any comments made because of its anonymity.

If you do not want your child involved in this as a contributor, the only thing you can do is to make efforts to ensure that he or she does not have or use the app. Perhaps more importantly, please have conversations with your children about the dangers of using their mobile devices in ways that can hurt other people.


Keith Barnes

Anonymous said...

teachers trying to stay ahead of kids and their technology....never works. this is like banning pencils and paper so kids can't pass notes.

Anonymous said...

Why are students allowed to bring phones to school? This is not a rhetorical question. I'm not a parent, but am genuinely surprised that students can bring phones into the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Schools checking students' phones seems like overreach to me. Kids can say whatever they want through any social media app and there's little to keep them from being anonymous on sites like Twitter or Tumblr.

The threat is created by the students not the app. Raise 'em right.

The Libertarian said...

Well...fascists....I realize this is a private school...but its not illegal, its not any more disruptive than any other app...what's the big deal with this one? If any school I WAS PAYING KIDNEY TRANSPLANT-level money for my kid to attend told me what apps my kid could have on a phone I PAY FOR...the administrators could line up to kiss my ass.

Anonymous said...

Sounds a little bit like JJ. Lot's of anonymous, ugly posts attacking others.

agent in LV NV said...

Off on a tangent, but it's ridiculous that kids who haven't been alive for double digit years have the latest IPhone in schools. That's how it is in Las Vegas too. When I was a kid, I would have had my good electronic device stolen by a thug and then be left to pray cops arrested him because my school wouldn't do a thing to help me. Rightfully so.

Anonymous said...

If I were a teenager, I would laugh at Penick and others like him for going crazy about Yik Yak. They can just go use any other similar app like Tinder.

Penick why not go at the underlying problem which is kids saying hurtful things to each other?

Saying you are going to check a kid's phone is not the answer. What if that kid won't give you the password to their smartphone? Are you going to kick them out?

Johnny Weir said...

JJ vets all comments. They will not post something that could come back and haunt them. Yes, Adults absolutely needs to monitor children & teen actions and keep them on the straight, correct, right, and narrow path to good behavior.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the problem at all with this school policy, and I am not affiliated with the school. Seems a responsible reaction by the administration.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, mean and ugly things have been written on bathroom stall walls in schools for decades. Should cameras have been installed or stall dividers removed to catch the "shit-house bandit"? Of course not, just as privacy should not be ignored in this case.

Kingfish said...

That's what happens when you get a Barnes. Can't trust any of them

Anonymous said...

Shorter Penick: so many of our students are hateful little sh*ts, we don't even try to educate them in morals; we just search their phones instead.

Pretty sad admission. Not a rec for St Andrews.

Anonymous said...

As an ex-SA student, I can guarantee you that the current students will keep the app on the phone, they'll just hide it. The admin has tried to do stuff like this to us even when I was in school. We found loopholes, and so will the kids.

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:00 - yes, they pay a hell of a lot for the opportunity to go to St. A's (or any of the other top private schools in the area). And if you don't like their policies, you can take your kids out. It is a private school, and they set the rules for attending. You don't like the rules, spend your kidney %%s somewhere else.

Parents need to monitor their kids, but us parents place them in the care of school administrators for several hours a day. I appreciate them not only setting reasonable policies, but also telling us why and when they establish new policies.

You don't like it, save your money to replace your kidneys and send them to JPS - they don't worry about any of this kind of shit there!

Anonymous said...

When kids are allowed to bring cell phones to school, well, what do you expect? I am so very, VERY happy to have retired as principal of a middle school in another state. We were just beginning to deal with this. It's all on the parents. They need to be in control of those stupid phones.

Anonymous said...

"You don't like it, save your money to replace your kidneys and send them to JPS - they don't worry about any of this kind of shit there!"

You obviously haven't been on Instagram to see the pictures of "JPSHos"

Anonymous said...

According to a reliable source the nastiness went back and forth between a group of 10th grade girls and a group of 12th grade girls, with one member of each group being the target of vicious and vile slurs and slanders. All anonymous, of course. These two groups made "Mean Girls" look like "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm."

If the administration didn't try to do something about this situation they might be legally liable; ignoring it would certainly be a PR disaster in a small town like Jackson.

The other, more recent strange story at SA is yesterday's claim that a 12th grader was chastized for watching porn on his school laptop at 2 am on his home's wifi. A student told me he was "creeped out" by the idea that someone was IT was able to observe the student through the webcam camera. I have heard of security systems that use the webcam camera to track down stolen laptops when the thief turns it on.

To quote John Lennon: "Strange days, indeed"

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Are you saying someone at SA was up at 2:00 a.m. monitoring students through their laptop webcams? I find that very hard to believe.

Anonymous said...

2:25, yes they were written on bathroom walls, but when they were caught, they were punished. Remember one kid that ended up having to scrub the bathroom walls clean a few decades ago. We want to return to the 'old way' - you know, when they paddle came out (ones with holes drilled in it for those young folks on here) and was used at will, without having to get parental permission. What StA, StJ, and others are dealing with here is what can be done with today's problems. Me, for one, is happy to see them at least attempting to deal with it. Yes, the kids will hide the aps, but some will get caught. And when they do, now the schools will have some ground to stand on when they punish the kids.

Count me in the group that is glad to see school administrators trying to do what they can with the problems some of these kids are bringing into the classrooms. Would hope that their parents get involved as well. Those that don't like it, pull your spoiled little brats out and send them elsewhere.

Kingfish said...

No damn reason for a kid or teen to have a smartphone. Need to contact them so bad, get a simple bar or flip phone.

Anonymous said...

"I'm confused. Are you saying someone at SA was up at 2:00 a.m. monitoring students through their laptop webcams? I find that very hard to believe."

That seems to be the implication. On the other hand, there could be some kind of monitor log that got reviewed during waking hours, which seems a LOT more likely.

Anonymous said...

For the person who believes that paying a tuition gives kids right to do what they want is the perfect illustration of why kids act the way they do today. Don't worry your parents will pay away your bad behavior...until they can't.

Anonymous said...

@ St.A you buy the laptop but the school has more hooks into the box than a commercial fishing boat trolling baited long lines. Nobody was monitoring the box, live, at 2 AM but they know *everything* that takes place on any given computer. On or off campus. Penick is a control freak and the school is the NSA of area privates.

Anonymous said...

And you know this how?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like many commenting have either no children or very young children. Having a house full of teens, I appreciate every effort the schools are making to save the kids from themselves, and to apprise the parents of the constantly arising challenges. It truly is a game of whack-a-mole. Confiscating the phones would solve nothing since the students are required to have devices for school work, and the phones are only part of the problem. Without the devices the schools would be accused of not adequately preparing the children for our connected world. The juvenile brain is so immature, that they will do things in anonymous pack culture that they would never do in person, regardless of what they know is right. You may have written a catty note about someone and passed it in class, but this is so viral in nature and the harm exponential. I am grateful for any partnering from the schools to help parents shepherd their children. And no, most parents do not make a commitment to private school because they don't want to be bothered with teaching or disciplining their children.

Dante said...

5:35pm has it right. St. Andrews has always had a reputation of nastiness, dishonesty, and a culture most fitting an episode of House of Cards.

Maybe if the parents there weren't so dominated by the JFP-reading crowd they'd be able to teach their kids a little more dignity or how to fight back. Fortunately the all-powerful school administration is there to step in so that the parents won't have to skip their ACLU meeting to actually parent.

Kingfish said...

Your kid fights back and then gets expelled. I really hate those zero tolerance policies for that reason. Hurts the kid by telling him not to defend himself and helps the bully who doesn't care about school anyway.

Anonymous said...

JPS has a no cell phone policy. That's not to say kids don't sneak them in anyway, but if you're caught, they take the phone and a parent has to pick it up at the downtown office. But we all need to teach our kids to not be bullies.

Anonymous said...

Those of you who think bullying today is the same as in your era really need to get in touch with reality.

For starters, teachers had more authority to deal with bullies and negate their influence.

I think it's time to reinstitute " conduct grades" and make sure those students who have less than a B in conduct can't play sports or take part in school activities or receive honors!

And, it's past time for parents to figure out that consequences when a juvenile are better than learning the consequences later. Two year old tantrums are typical just like teen excesses are but for adults those behaviors are dysfunctional and can have criminal consequences ( see story on the Frazier boys).

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