Chilliwack teachers face brave new world of online activitiy

Child luring allegations against a Chilliwack teacher have raised concerns regarding the school district's lack of a social media policy.

Social media is an exciting new technology, but like any new frontier it’s filled with potential dangers.

Something the Chilliwack school district may be learning.

On Thursday, Todd Paice, a longtime teacher at Mt. Slesse middle school, was charged with child luring – not in a classroom or school gymnasium, but on the Internet.

The charge falls under a section of the criminal code dealing with communicating via a computer system with a person under 16, “to facilitate an invitation to sexual interference and/or sexual touching with respect to that person.”

No details of how the allegations – which have yet to be proven in court – have been disclosed by authorities. However, the charge highlights an emerging concern for teachers – as well as for parents and students as the school district journeys into the brave new world of social media.

For more than a year, School District 33 has been promoting online technology as a way of increasing communication between teachers, administrators, staff, parents and students.

However, while several teachers employ Twitter and Facebook accounts as a way of connecting outside the classroom with other teachers, as well as students and parents, there are no school district guidelines in place to control such use.

District superintendent Michael Audet would not comment on whether the school district should be concerned with online interaction between staff and students without guidelines in place.

“It’s something that we’re working on,” he said. “We do not have policy currently. However, we have always worked with all our staff on boundaries.”

Chilliwack Teachers’ Association president Katharin Midzain is concerned.

“Social media is a difficult medium to contain and to draw really clear boundaries around,” Midzain said. “It started out as something only the youth used, but now it’s encroached on professional time and space as well. I think it’s something we didn’t anticipate being so pervasive as it is now.”

The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association as well as the BC Teachers’ Federation advise teachers not to interact with students outside of school.

“Our advice is you are not Facebook friendly or social media friendly with students current or former for at least 10 years,” Midzain said. “You do not interact with students ever.”

But with several school districts in the province advocating a social media presence, the union realizes for some teachers that’s not happening.

Midzain believes this incident could be a wake-up call.

“I think this will push every district, not just Chilliwack, into developing policy,” she said. “As these things happen more and more there has to be some immediate discussion, not just further discussion. Can we put boundaries in place? If so, what are they? Can we create a policy? If so, what will work?

“I think there’s a definite need for it so at least [employees] have something to fall back on that’s clear. It’s timely to do it now.”

Just Posted

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
Student’s quote in Chilliwack high school yearbook equates graduation with end of slavery

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Police say Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months

RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Doses prepared at pop-up vaccine clinic in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, in the M3N postal code, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. ( THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston)
4 vaccine clinics coming to Neighbourhood Learning Centre

Fraser Health made clinics ‘low-barrier’ meaning pre-registration not required

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

Most Read