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Monitoring students' use of social media adds to teachers' duties today


A sign stands outside the April 12 workshop on student safety presented Sister Mary Angela Shaughnessy Father Michael Huggins, both of Louisville, Ky. With increasing access to technology, educators must be "more vigilant than ever" of what students do online, said Sister Shaughnessy. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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BOSTON (CNS) -- When the reputation of a student, teacher or school can be brought down by a YouTube posting, blog or anonymous email, educators need to be "more vigilant than ever."

That was the advice for hundreds of participants attending an April 12 workshop during the annual National Catholic Educational Association convention in Boston.

More than 10,000 educators attended the April 11-13 convention filled with workshops focusing on professional and spiritual development and the challenges faced by Catholic schools and religious education programs in today's modern world.

During the convention, several workshops focused on the use of technology and the problem of online bullying. Sister Mary Angela Shaughnessy, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth, Ky., and executive director of the Education Law Institute in Louisville, Ky., told Catholic school teachers and administrators that they cannot ignore what students are doing online.

She said she gets asked often by school leaders: "Can't we just say it's not our problem?" since Facebook postings, for example, are not school-related activities.

Her response is point-blank: "No."

When students defame their school, teachers or other students online, it becomes a school-related issue that needs a response, she said.

"Don't give that up. Deal with the problem of cyberbullying," which she described as the top issue she gets questions about.

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