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    Social media helps probation officers monitor juvenile offenders

    Date: 07.12.12 | by Judge Tom.

    The caption of this article should come as no surprise to anyone. We’ve all read and heard about colleges, universities and employers checking your Facebook posts and YouTube videos. Teenagers on probation are also followed by the probation officers whether they’ve turned over their passwords or not. What you post on a public site is out there for anyone to see.

    Judge Lisa Gonzales in Corpus Christi, Texas, orders some adult probationers to turn over their usernames and passwords to their probation officers. “This gives them one more tool to basically look up people on their accounts and see if they’re posting anything that would be inappropriate or would be a violation of their probation,” Judge Gonzales explained. Access to your Twitter, Facebook or MySpace account allows the PO to monitor your activities 24/7 from anywhere.

    Photo by Mashable.com (Flickr)

    Other courts across the country are exploring similar policies. Many juvenile probation officers follow their kids on Facebook to see that they’re following the terms of probation. The use of social media has grown tremendously by government officials and agencies. Statistics show that almost every governor has a personalized Twitter presence as well as 10% of state legislators. Every governor has a Facebook presence and legislatures in Illinois, New York, Minnesota, Michigan and Texas lead the nation in Facebooking.

    In July, 2012, Delaware became the first state to ban colleges and universities from requiring students to provide access to their social networking accounts. Strict privacy laws protect college students from divulging information as a requirement for admission or participation in extracurricular activities. See Delaware HB 309 for the specifics.

    Check out some of our previous posts about having a social media presence and the following subjects:

    college admission tips

    MySpace photo backfires

    after effects of cyber-posts

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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