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August  16

Glen Ridge Schools Discover Student Blogging

(...and don't like it.)

Sad Parents of Glen Ridge high school students got a letter from "the Administrative Team" this past week, warning of the dangers of those proliferating teenage myspace and xanga sites. The letter warns, "Students are posting personal information and pictures which clearly show these students involved in various inappropriate and occasionally illegal activities. There are many references to alcohol and drug use, as well as, strong sexual content." The letter also warns that personal information and pictures make teens "potential targets" for predators, and suggest parents place the home computer "in a public area in your house."

Happy Actually, it sounds a lot like teenagers being teenagers. And we daresay computers are not nearly as potentially dangerous as that modern contraption known as the car. We'd also bet that Holden Caufield, if he were a real teenager today rather than a fictional character in 1951, would have a live journal to work out his take on life. Here's what he might say....

when i was at the mall, i learned a very important and valuable lesson. if you're a dude and your at the mall with a female, the best thing to do is to just find a chair and wait. cuz if you actually walk around with them, its just a pain in the ass and it is much worse. so yea then i took a nappy at home and went to work and it was kind of hot and stuff. so when i got done i went to the pool and cooled off and whatnot.

or this...

Maybe it's just me I'm thinking that I totally over-react about the little shit. I can't help feeling jealous about stuff thats going on but I really do feel bad about getting so worked up and pissed off over stupid things, especially when most of the time it's just to test me to see how mad i'll actually get. i just need to become more trusting and understanding. i honestly understand why it's been so hard to put with me lately. constantly i've felt like i'm in some kind of competition or some kind of fight to top and i'm trying to make sure that i'm the guy going the farthest and doing anything for the number one spot. maybe if i just acted normal and wasn't such a jealous person things would come alot easier. i guess what i really mean to say is that, i'm sorry. for everything. i can imagine that i'd probably hate myself this summer too.

Just some local kid, hanging out in Glen Ridge ... and (do we really have to point this out to educators?) writing in his spare time.

August 16, 2005 in Those Crazy Kids | Permalink


Dontcha you wonder why "the administrative team" was cruising a teen website?

Posted by: Oye | Aug 16, 2005 7:35:22 AM

yes i thought that was strange as well, the thought of a bunch of 40-somethings nosing around the sites of 13 year old girls. There is SOME questionable content, teenage girls looking coy or holding signs reading "sexy", and some pictures of clearly underaged kids with bottles of vodka in hand... but it's not really the websites fault is it? The xanga site is a blogging site, with kids writing their thoughts, feelings, events of the day. It's not as widely used as myspace, which is more of a social connection site. You post pictures, write a few things about yourself "Hi i'm ashley, i love cherry pie and skinny boys with glasses! Emo ROX! and so does my boyfriend!" and your friends comment. You can check daily to see what people say about you, etc. It's very popular, teenagers enjoy being connected and while use any medium for social interaction.
I think it's pretty harmless.
It seems to me that the real issue here is parents who have been so incompetent that they have no athority and no idea what their children are doing. It seems as though the administration and parents such as these are waging a war on their misbehaved children- and losing badly. And because of this, are forced to use sneaky, dirty tactics, such as reading their children's diaries, just to realize that their children are drinking or smoking or using drugs. It's really too bad that for some parents, it had to come to this.
However, the sites themselves are harmless. Many colleges use a myspace type site called 'facebook" to connect students, and I enjoy having several blogging sites, some private and some not, mostly because I enjoy writing and would rather type than hand write.
thanks for reading all this.

Posted by: GRstudent | Aug 16, 2005 8:41:58 AM

when i said "while" i meant "will"

Posted by: GRstudent | Aug 16, 2005 8:43:12 AM

while no one can take away that cyberspace has it's truely wonderful means to communicate and commerce to millions in the time it takes for a single keystroke--one has to wonder what implication that might hold for our most precious assests, our children.

the fact that the administration issued a memo to alert their staff and parents was surely for an ounce of prevention and for millions in legal liabilty.

in most cases, these adolescents are no S.E. Hinton journeling (as the baresta saw after a post regarding a hazing incident in Glen Ridge).

this is truely a warning for the unmonitored youth and the parent who is oblivious (so hence it falls on deaf ears regardless)

Is it so wrong to ask a parent to do his/or her job to monitor their own child-or at least open a discussion of the implications for why restraint may have it's merits after all?

-while kids may be kids and the majority are not Columbine killers-and the majority won't be swept away by pedophiles, who make it their occupation to monitor these sites-

the innocent transfer of personal information let alone photographs offered up into Cyberspace may be dangerous and detrimental in the long term.

My paranoid father used to say never put it in writing--albeit bad advice for his budding novelist--however paper is an evil enough means to hinder a career later in life let alone sexually explicit photograph or a stupid remark made then sent into the files of cyberspace.

for every holden caulfied (the catcher in the rye) there are hundreds if not thousands of Ralphs (the lord of the flies)

Posted by: cstarling | Aug 16, 2005 9:17:40 AM

Read the title and thought that this was going to be one of those "school gets criticized by student in blog and forbids it in contravention of all the principles of liberty they are supposed to teach" things. Instead, it's a reminder to parents that they should pay attention to the media their kids are consuming (and creating, in this case.)

I guess you could criticize them for stating the obvious, but many adults aren't very web-savvy. Perhaps they should have included a couple of eye opening links as an, ahem, warning.

Posted by: MiloG | Aug 16, 2005 9:35:42 AM

i misspoke that would be the character of Jack in the lord of the flies

Posted by: cstarling | Aug 16, 2005 9:37:21 AM

I agree with Milo G. Kudos to the GR admin for alerting parents. The letter wasn't anti-blogging; it just made sure parents knew about it and some potential risks. Frankly, I'm impressed that the administration took the time and effort to send the letter.

Posted by: lurker | Aug 16, 2005 9:45:17 AM

I actually think this was a good move by the administration, no one wants kids to be targets and the issue of internet predators is grown rapidly. Recently, Shaquille O' Neal went through a 2 month training course in Virginia to become a licensed law enforcement agent to help root out internet predetors. I guy with his celebrity stature can go a long way in prevent kids from being victims.

Posted by: MyManMisterC | Aug 16, 2005 10:02:50 AM

I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that students would blog when they should be doing their homework.

Posted by: walleroo | Aug 16, 2005 10:21:51 AM

when 16 year olds from GRHS publish on their own sites that they're "loud when they get drunk" and "hate people pretending to be drunk" it's probably a good idea for the admin. to alert parents.

Posted by: Bubba from Baristaville | Aug 16, 2005 11:03:35 AM

"In J.D. Salinger’s "The Catcher in the Rye", the main character of Holden Caulfield views the world as a place where valuable human qualities such as love and kindness have been overridden by the middle class version of “success”, which is based chiefly on money and power. Holden Caulfield is an idealist clinging desperately to the notion that basic human kindness is far more vital to a happy existence than material wealth. Salinger continuously portrays Holden as a cynical character, particularly in regards to issues surrounding wealth and corruption, as can be seen in the following passage which describes the character’s opinion of lawyers like his father:

“Lawyers are all right, I guess – but it doesn’t appeal to me,’ I said. ‘I mean they’re all right if they go around saving innocent guys’ lives all the time, and like that, but you don’t do that kind of stuff if you’re a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot. How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t” (p. 172).

Yet Holden is also in many ways, an optimist in that he believes he will eventually find the meaning in life that he is seeking. Of course, Holden’s idealism causes others to view him as naïve and immature, which is exactly the type of reversal of values that Salinger is trying to depict. At sixteen, Holden’s experiences are limited and so his attitudes are dismissed as the naïve rantings of an innocent youth Holden is alienated due to his inability or unwillingness to conform to the acquisitive attitudes of post-war America. Holden feels like a misfit in a corrupt environment, and he desperately seeks a human connection that will make him feel whole.

Ironically, despite Holden’s convictions about society’s twisted definition of success, he describes himself as a perpetual failure. He has been told endlessly by his parents, teachers and just about everyone he knows that his expulsions and other reckless acts make him a failure, and he has internalized those assumptions to some extent. Early in the novel, Holden says, “As a matter of fact, I’m the only dumb one in the family” (p. 67). Still, he is able to view his alleged failings as almost laughable. Holden takes the news that he has flunked out of yet another school in stride, deciding to go spend a few days in New York to “take it easy” (p. 51). While in New York, a terrible date, a run-in with a pimp named Maurice, and a bizarre encounter with an old teacher all serve to obliterate Holden’s plans for a little “R & R”. At the same time, issues such as inadequacy, alcoholism, and suicide are cluttering his mind and fueling his cynicism. Still he manages to hang onto his ideals. That is, until his sanity comes into question.

Holden is said to suffer from psychological problems because of his self-destructive behavior and his non-conformist attitudes. The “cure”, as implied in the novel, would be for Holden to give up his resistance to material gain and his adoration for non-judgmental, Genuine Human Interaction. Perhaps the lesson to be learned from this classic literary character in regards to wealth, corruption and the American dream, is that no matter how many beautiful, expensive things one is surrounded by, true happiness can only be found from within."

It is doubtful he woulda found that on a teenage blog

Posted by: cstarling | Aug 16, 2005 11:14:34 AM

Now where was this information on Catcher in the Rye when I was taking my final in the 10th grade. I thought the story was called a Cather from Rue and was waiting to hear more about baseball.

- Yogi Berra

Brilliant Synopsis.

Posted by: MyManMisterC | Aug 16, 2005 1:03:01 PM

i am a junior at glen ridge and i was outraged to find out that the school called my house to tell them i have innapropriate things on my myspace when all I had was a few curse words and a picture of me in a bikini. Oh and it said GR in like 2 places but thats it. All i'm saying is that i REALLY hope they called all the kids parents with pictures of people smoking weed and drinking alcohol. This makes me really annoyed and i am starting to really hate the school system even more.

Posted by: angry_teen | Aug 16, 2005 4:01:26 PM

One more thing to add, i think this will explain my point further:
I have yet to see one picture of kids drinking which was not taken INSIDE A HOUSE.
Number one best way to know what your kid is up to: Figure out what's going on in your basement every friday night.

Posted by: GRstudent | Aug 16, 2005 4:45:35 PM

I hope that all parents check out mysape.com and xanga.com. Set up an account, search for the city that you live in and you will see your children and their friends. I did it today and found out who drinks and smokes weed. It seems that the letter may have caused some children to clean up their sights. Many parents allow the kids to hang out in the basement on a Friday night but many do not care about what goes on - they're too busy drinking themselves or just don't care about what happens. I am not against adults drinking responsibly but I am against parents who allow these drinking parties to go on.

Posted by: GRparent | Aug 16, 2005 5:16:37 PM

There is a certain amount of sulky petulance in a few posts above. These posts purport to be from students. But while I'm hardly ever of the "The kids are alright" school of thought, am I alone in suspecting that said "kids" aren't really that, instead are would-be adult satirists?

I think the bit about parents "drinking themselves" may be the giveaway. I also think, if I'm right, that both John O'Hara and Grace Metalious did it much, much better.

Posted by: cathar | Aug 16, 2005 7:09:16 PM

peyton place and pottsville-hmmm-does vaguely resemble the scenery-

but cathar it's worth a visit to myspace--it is a far cry from the teenage wasteland i knew-and i knew it well--this is a site just waitin to be preyed upon by the sick and depraved-

-i guess barista isn't getting the outraged youths that they got on the hazing report--cause perhaps those screens have been darkened by parental interference.

Posted by: cstarling | Aug 16, 2005 8:42:24 PM

The post referring to parents "drinking themselves" came from GRparent.

Posted by: a neighbor | Aug 16, 2005 8:54:15 PM

i'm sorry, but yes, obviously the teens are going to clean up their myspace, but when the school calls an innocent student who does not have anything wrong on their myspoace and their parents flip on them, it sucks. Reality, LOTS of teens drink. Call the parents of these kids who oyu know do things. Look on certain people and it has things written like "vodka is my fav drink" honestly the school system makes me so outraged sometimes

Posted by: outraged_22 | Aug 16, 2005 11:25:41 PM

I would like to second Oye's question. While alerting parents to the presence of these sites seems reasonable enough, reading every single one seems a little excessive. Aren't there better things GR public schools could be doing with taxpayer money, rather than paying administrators to look at pictures of minors in skimpy bikinis? I think that it should be up to parents, not the principal, to follow their sons' and daughters' sex lives, and certainly up to the parents to pass judgment on what is inappropriate.
At the same time, there is an argument that if parents have abdicated their responsibility then society must step in. Unfortunately, I think cstarling may be right: in the (very) few cases where this argument applies, this action by the administration will probably fall on deaf ears.
As for predators: the main danger comes from a minor meeting a predator online and becoming friends, rather than from a predator picking some random blog author to stalk.
Finally, I would like to state the obvious: most GR students drink. If this was truly a surprise to anyone, then the administration should certainly have sent out a letter reminding parents that students drink. However, reading every blog was unnecessary, and in passing judgment on the contents of those blogs the administration greatly exceeded their authority.

Posted by: GRalum | Aug 16, 2005 11:55:42 PM

Well, Clarice, it certainly sounds like an emotional wasteland, one I don't care to visit. Saying, as someone does above, "most Gr students drink," well, were that to be true (and I doubt it), t'would paint a picture of alienation amidst affluence that would amaze even Ms. M.E. Hinton. Yet a line like that just sounds like a defensive ploy. I even doubt that "most parents" get stewed.

There's a kind of anger to many posts above that I just don't get, perhaps because I don't live in Glen Ridge; it's unsettling but seemingly also unfounded. So I remain unconvinced that life in GR is as "wet" as some claim. Believe me, folks, I've spent time in ethnic neighborhoods in both Buffalo and Pittsburgh, and compared to even social drinkers in both cities, GR adults and students alike will always be third-stringers at best. (For which they should be happy!)

Posted by: cathar | Aug 17, 2005 12:24:23 AM


I hardly meant it as a “defensive ploy.” I was simply questioning the necessity of reading every single blog in order to determine what everyone (should) already know: that teenagers drink.

Also, I am a bit curious why you equate partying with alienation. I admit that excessive use of alcohol (or other drugs) to escape one’s life can certainly be a symptom of alienation. But I don’t see how any use of alcohol is automatically a sign of alienation, as you suggest.

Finally, for everyone else:
Anyone surprised by the practice of students posting pictures of themselves doing “inappropriate” things should explore College Humor, especially the pictures section. (Beware: CH contains some Not Safe For Work images and links) This is not a defensive ploy; I am merely trying to give the controversial images some context. While I don’t know if current GR students visit CH, it is as good a starting point as any for exploring the teen and young-adult internet beyond the world of blogs.

/Do current GR students visit CH?
//And what’s with all the literary references?

Posted by: GRalum | Aug 17, 2005 2:11:09 AM

Did anyone see the Times article that pointed out how the "College Humor" web site guys are now millionaires? Talk about a wacky cycle - "drinking is not good for teens, too much binge drinking in college, make a web site about it and become rich." What's going on here?

Posted by: Biff | Aug 17, 2005 7:45:21 AM


1st drinking is still- i believe -against the law while under the age of 18--

drinking while an acceptable practice for those above the legal age, and even those who aren't,
is not a practice that is without consequence-

-hence all the related drunk driving deaths-as well as, the 90 percent of domestic violence cases related to drugs and alcohol, as well as any number of crimes (assault, theft, burglary) including sexual assault whereupon the offender is under the influence of drugs or alcohol- (not to mention the number of victims who wouldn't have been, if perhaps, they had not been free from some type of mind altering substance)

no need to tell us about the "inappropriate" sites there are thousands--

and your outrage over administrators reading every blog-well that is the cost of yours and your friends stupidity-

-while in my first blog i joked about an over protective father who warned me about "never put anything in writing" i forgot to continue the actual quote--

"never put anything in writing that you wouldn't want read by everyone"--

when you strike a pose and then attach your name to it with a list of the things that you do and are so pround of- it is for all those to see including parents-administrators-law enforcement - and "the high school administration"-as well as the fabulous "friends" you find on line.

-and your concerns about taxes weren't mentioned in any of those blogs--

our literary references shouldn't elude you since most of them are considered either high school or college reading material-

trust is earned and these parents should be dismayed as well as your educators--because they taught you or thought they did, common sense-

-and they went and gave you technology to help in your education -

and while they thought you were safe in your rooms utalizing your wonderful educational toys--hoping you were doing the right things you were surfing for friends, sex, and the next party-

don't get angry at them get angry at yourselves for being caught red handed-

get angry for doing the same things you state you detest in the generations before you-

this time when you point your finger at society (your drunken parent, the lazy cop, the cheating president, the stupid teacher, the bully, the nerd, the draft, ...) four fingers are pointing back at you--

you beg to be treated as adults but use none of the forethought that is involved in being one.

Posted by: cstarling | Aug 17, 2005 8:25:58 AM

sorry all-but the lambs are screaming

Posted by: cstarling | Aug 17, 2005 9:12:24 AM

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