Leonie Hultgren
Leonie Hultgren Contributed

Principal sparks nationwide debate

A TOOWOOMBA principal has sparked a nationwide debate by threatening to expel students under the age of 13 who use Facebook.

The ultimatum came in the form of a school newsletter with Harlaxton State School principal Leonie Hultgren stating students who flouted the rule risked their "continued enrolment at Harlaxton".

The issue made it all the way to Channel 7's Sunrise yesterday, with parenting expert Dr Michael Carr-Gregg calling for Mrs Hultgren to be nominated for a "principal of the year award".

Facebook's own terms and conditions limit under 13s from signing up, but to join is as simple as clicking a button.

Department of Education regional director Greg Dickman said Mrs Hultgren had the full support of the department.

"The principal is demonstrating and reinforcing the ethical use of technology, including the appropriate use of social media," he said.

"Queensland state school principals are able to take disciplinary action ... if students are found to be using technology in an inappropriate manner, both at school and outside school hours."

The school has faced a backlash from some parents but with cyber bullying becoming more prevalent by the day, many argue there is no place for Facebook in primary schools.

University of Southern Queensland head of psychology Professor Tim Machin said it was no surprise that educators were resorting to such measures.

"The issue is not going to go away or get any easier," he said.

"Facebook has its own policy, but do they enforce it?

"All it requires if for a person to change their year of birth."

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