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Should the Media Report on Student Suspensions?

A Portsmouth mom asks, "At what point does the rights of one become irrelevant when keeping the local community informed?"

A few weeks ago, there was a party in Portsmouth that resulted in the arrest of a that allegedly provided alcohol for said party.

The reason? involving local high school students.

Over the next couple of days, the fact that students were suspended from extra curricular activities was published online and in the local newspaper.

We don't live in a population of 1.5 million. We live in a 59-sq.-ft. radius encompassing a little over 17,000 people. We all know who the kids are.

When we, as members of the community, allow for the fact that students were suspended to be published outside of the school, we do a disservice to these teens.

At a time when we are bemoaning that our children are overexposed via the Internet, reality shows and Smart Phones, we ourselves are thrusting them into an adult situation.

What they did was wrong, the drinking age was established for a reason, and I am firmly against underage drinking because I am a parent.

We are all well aware that accusations that make front page news have a follow up on the lower corner on the back page weeks later and no one remembers that. Thrusting these children into the limelight does them a disservice.

Now, not only are they battling a reputation within the walls of the school community, which is overwhelming in itself, but battling the butcher and baker that has the first half of the story and none of the follow up.

It wasn't just that party. If you read any daily paper, you see the underage activity in all our local communities: Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth and Tiverton. Underage kids that have done numerous things, theft, fighting, underage drinking.

And yes, it's scary.

And yes, it's wrong.

And it is every parent's hope that our children aren't involved in any of it. That may be a bit unrealistic. And, if they are involved, isn't it our responsibility to help these children learn? As a school district, a local community and as parents.

Or, do we just throw it online and in the local paper and give up? To me, it seems to me that what is handled in school should be addressed to those effected and a “No comment” given to local new agencies.

This isn't an issue of not informing the public. It's about protecting the children and their ability to rebound from bad choices. They are not adults and should clearly not be treated as such.

I am not saying there shouldn't be repercussions or consequences. Clearly, there should be and clearly there are. In our house, a missed game hurts more than five days suspension.

I wonder how many other kids have been suspended in the last few weeks and why? After all, if we are going to begin addressing the in-school discipline in the local online sites or local paper, shouldn't we address them all and not just the few?

I know I will get numerous comments about how the local community should be informed of all activity at the locals schools. If that's the position, then fine, let's be informed of ALL ACTIVITY.

And some will rage, “She/He did it! Too bad she/he will just have to deal with it. We shouldn't treat these kids so softly."

But we buy “Participant” trophies for activities to help with self-esteem.

Again, in NO WAY do I condone any of these activities by ANYONE regardless of age. I am strongly opposed to any school department or local media outlet publishing any disciplinary action taken against any UNDERAGE child.

The size of our community does not allow for any type of confidentiality and lays the groundwork for a 30-year-old adult to be remembered for by the action of a child.

M. P. April 24, 2011 at 06:44 PM
The names of the minors should never be published, but reporting that it happened... absolutely! Especially since it took place the weekend after the substance abuse event that hardly any PHS parents bothered to attend. Closing your eyes and pretending these things don't happen in Portsmouth is ludicris! Talk to the kids at the high school... it happens more than you think and it's often the kids you don't think will take part in these activities.
Shee G April 25, 2011 at 02:55 PM
NO ONE in particular was mentioned and EVERYONE should know, IT IS WRONG WHAT "SHE" did and what happened! THEY WILL LEARN with Consequences as she should!
CC June 12, 2011 at 12:20 PM
I agree that none of this should be published. The kids are learning and growing, making mistakes, along with making some good choices too. Publishing this info (even without names) is not going to help these kids at all. I feel it will make things worse. The kids will feel like they are bad, criminals, etc, and they will stop trying. It will drag them down. No parent wants their child to participate in this type of behavior, but I don't see how publishing it, and gossiping about it, leading to snubbing them at school is going to make it better. It will make things harder and worse.
Chris Christensen June 12, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Actually the article was more about what a misguided parent did in providing kids with something the law says they should not have. The kids that were there at the affair are by now and probably the next day after well known by their peers. Snubbing...I fear you do not know well the kids of today. Actually they are looked upon by the majority of their peers as unsung heros and many would wish they had been invited....although...not caught.
East side June 12, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Underage then no. The parent make front page news with a picture and run the story multiple times with updates. What parent in this day and age is aware of drinking at a party and is ok with it? The issue here is being blurred and moved to the kids. The parent should be the center of the issue

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