China: Student Punished By School After Posting Selfie During Summer Vacation

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A secondary school girl in China who was punished by her school for sharing a selfie on social media while she was on summer vacation has sparked a discussion over personal liberties and the right to privacy in the country.

According to Xinyuan Video, an unnamed student from Panjin in Liaoning province in northeastern China was apparently reprimanded by her secondary school for violating a school restriction on the use of the social media application WeChat. The incident was reported by Xinyuan Video.

The student started their summer break on Monday, and on that day, they went out with their friends and shared a self-portrait on their WeChat Moments account. When she woke up the following morning, she discovered a WeChat group message from her teacher. “Yesterday there were two students making posts on WeChat Moments, and many other students had interactions with them. As this has severely violated school rules banning the use of WeChat, a notice will be circulated to these students and a penalty imposed when the school term resumes,” the message read.

“It urged me and another schoolmate who made the post to fill in a form when we return to school,” the student said in an interview.

The teacher also reminded her in the message that no WeChat postings are permitted during school vacations and that mobile phones are solely for study purposes.

The student said that in the past, students had posted on WeChat and that the professors had seen it, but that they had not been penalized. She said that she had an assumption that this was due to a new homeroom teacher who had just arrived at the school and had a more stringent teaching approach. “After checking the school rules, I am now aware that surfing the internet is prohibited. As no one mentioned it to me before, I had no idea,” the girl added.

When it comes to when and how students may use the internet both at school and at home, the institution has imposed stringent limits. In addition to prohibiting students from using smartphones, instructors are required to closely monitor and supervise their internet activities, and students are required to provide monthly logs of their phone usage, including calls, to them.

If a student violates school policy for the first time, he or she will get a demerit, be suspended for three days, and have their phone confiscated. Repeat offenders will be suspended for an additional two days, while those who commit a third offense will be expelled.

The local education bureau said that the school had done nothing improper since it was aiming to encourage pupils to devote more time to their academic pursuits.

However, once the girl’s case was revealed this week on mainland Chinese social media, there has been a reaction against the school and its standards. One Weibo user said: “The school is forcing the students to stay away from the internet? Isn’t it 2022?” “To advance the quality of teaching at the school, I suggest the rules be applied to everyone including teachers ,” another commenter wrote.

According to an education lawyer quoted by Jiupai News, it’s permissible for schools to supervise students’ behavior while in school. However, in this particular instance, the school is not behaving fairly and has no authority to dictate to students how they may or may not use the internet while they are not on school property.