Message from Attorney General Eric Schmitt
As you know from your professional role, nearly every young person in Missouri has access to the Internet. Unfortunately, the benefit of that access also puts these teens and pre-teens at risk for the dangers that can lurk on the Internet.
I believe one way we can help keep children safe on the Internet is to give them the information they need to recognize and avoid dangers. That's why my office has created an Internet Safety program designed to help teens recognize the dangers of the Internet, identify situations to avoid, and offer advice on how to browse the internet safely. Included in this section is important information concerning social networking on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other popular venues students use regularly.
With the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Internet chat rooms, as well as the proliferation of text messaging, teachers have unlimited opportunities to make contact with students outside of the classroom. It could be argued that the Internet and technology might enhance the educational experience of the student and provide teachers with additional means for guiding and instructing students.
Unfortunately, the Internet and other forms of technology also provide a means for a teacher to cultivate a relationship with a student that can lead to inappropriate or unprofessional conduct. What may start out as an “innocent” text exchange could precipitate a relationship that will not serve either party well. In extreme cases, these actions have not only resulted in decertification, they have led to charges involving criminal misconduct. Teachers should take every precaution to avoid even the inference of impropriety.