Published in the April 1, 2016 edition
MELROSE — Melrose school officials detected multiple incidences of inappropriate Twitter and Instagram posts last week at both the middle school and high school levels.
Melrose High School Principal Marianne Farrell and Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Principal Brent Conway released a joint statement regarding the issue.
The statement can be found below:
It has come to our attention that there have been multiple instances of inappropriate language posted on Twitter and Instagram at both the high school and middle school this week. These comments are culturally, racially and sexually insensitive and are deeply concerning to this administration. In this tight knit community, remarks of any nature, especially those with negative connotation, are quick to spread, escalate and potentially cause unjust harm to our students.
Over the last several months, the Melrose Public Schools has been working to promote a culture of tolerance and respect for all races, cultures, religions and sexual orientations. We are reviewing and modifying our policies and procedures to ensure that students feel safe at all times, but we cannot do this alone. If a situation spills over into school, we will take appropriate action though education, dispute resolution and, if necessary, discipline, to address any cyberbullying or discriminatory harassment that impacts our students. We are asking the community to be our partner in this endeavor.
While students have the right to express themselves online, we encourage parents to have a frank and honest discussion with their children about inappropriate and hateful language, bullying, harassment and the effects it can have on their peers and the well being of this city as a whole. Comments posted online remain on the internet forever and can often times have serious, negative repercussions, not only now, but into adulthood. A 2014 CareerBuilder survey found that 51 percent of employers who researched job candidates on social media reported finding content that caused them to not hire the candidate. We do not want this future for our students.
Before sharing anything online, students should pause to consider how their statement will affect others. It’s often easy to forget the scope of an audience, so before posting, ask your children to consider the intent behind their message. Could this content harm or offend their peers, and if so, is it worth sharing? For our school district to continue to grow and move forward, we must work together to educate students on the importance of maintaining a responsible and respectful presence while online.
Our conversations surrounding this issue have only just begun and we know that there is still much work to be done to achieve and maintain an environment that remains socially and culturally welcoming to all students. We cannot incite change alone. We hope that you as parents will take an active role in furthering our message by talking to your children about appropriate social media behavior. We are also asking that you speak with your children regarding anonymous postings. If your children have any information about the identity of individuals who have engaged in hurtful and discriminatory conduct online, we urge them to come forward to the administration so that we end the behavior and educate students on the consequences and negative impact of such behavior on others.
Resources on bullying, social media use and many other topics are available on the Middlesex Partnerships for Youth website: https://middlesexpartnershipsforyouth.com.
For more information or to report a situation, please contact your building Principal.