In Missouri, a new bill effective on August 28 will formally ban teachers from befriending students on social networking websites like Facebook. The law is an aggressive step toward dictating the interactions educators are allowed in online social spaces — a relatively uncharted legislative territory.
Missouri Senate Bill 54 is also known as the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, named for a Missouri student who allegedly had a sexual relationship with an abusive teacher beginning when she was 12. The case, which happened decades ago, exceeded Missouri's statute of limitations and never came to trial.
Under the stipulations of new bill, school districts must report sexually-related allegations within 24 hours, and disclose any allegations of sexual misconduct to other school districts in the state during the hiring process.
While the law expressly forbids direct, private online contact (or "exclusive access") between social media-savvy youth and their educators, its wording may permit teachers to use more transparent platforms, like the kind of Facebook pages that businesses and organizations often use.
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