Previous by DateNext by Date Date Index
Previous by ThreadNext by Thread Thread Index
LM_NET Archive

I received a private message in response to the post I made. This message
raises what I think is a critical issue in schools.

We will NOT be able to effectively prepare students for their education,
career, and civic responsibilities in the 21st Century if the technical
services directors in schools throughout this country continue their heavy
handed filtering. 

It is essential to shift how the Internet is being managed from a primary
reliance on filtering to more effective monitoring - in an environment where
education - not social - use of the Internet is expected, and supported with
effective professional and curriculum development. Heavy-handed filtering is
a very major part of the problem.
Subject: Re: Report by the Digital Youth Project released

> Dear Nancy,
> My question has always been does the law specifically state how tight
> the filter has to be set.  Do we have to set it at its most
> restrictive setting can't it be at its least restrictive setting?

All you have to do under CIPA is set it to block pornographic material -
obscene material and material harmful for minors. There is NO liability for
schools if they choose not to set it to block an area and something
"inappropriate" happens to appear on that site. The CIPA regulations
mentioned the understanding that filtering is not perfect.

There is absolutely NO justification under CIPA for the heavy-handed
filtering that is preventing effective instruction in schools today. The
problem is that schools are overly reliant on filtering when they should be
shifting to more of a focus on monitoring.

The other problem is the non-research-based fear-mongering about internet
risk. Just about everything you hear in the press - or from politicians -
about online sexual predators is not supported by the research data.

They are not targeting children.
They are not tracking down teens based on personal contact information they
post. 1 in 5 or 7 young people has not been contacted by a predator. There
are not 50,000 predators online at any given time prowling for victims.
There are legitimate concerns of adults who are preying on emotionally
vulnerable or "seeking" teens. But the arrest rates for sexual abuse of
minors have actually been going down in the last decade.

Our district (actually most
> of the state) went to web washer and we are even more restricted now
> than we were before....please... if we tried to do this with books
> someone would be hopping down our backs screaming first admendment
> rights.

No one at the filtering companies is held accountable for the decisions that
are being made. 8e6 has a close relationship with the American Family
Association!!! Think of the objections if the American Family Association
was the organization deciding what books would be allowed in schools. No one
knows what biases the other companies might have.

It is OUTRAGEOUS that tech directors and administrators would think that
these companies are better at selecting sites for their appropriateness than
librarians and teachers!

And I suppose
> since I seem to be venting, usually the person setting the filter is
> not an educator but an IT tech with little or no classroom experience.

This is a major concern. The people who are making content based
decisions on what categories should be blocked should be the librarians and
curriculum specialists. The IT folks should be involved only on decisions
related to security and bandwidth issues.

Further EVERY librarian and ed tech specialist in the schools should have
the authority to override the filter and provide access to a site that has
been inappropriately blocked - based on the educational determination of its

Further, EVERY counselor, administrator, and school resource officer, should
also have the ability to override to investigate online material that
presents safety of student well-being concerns. (And they may need some help
from more tech savvy folks to be able to do this.)

I am working on professional development resources to address both youth
risk online and effective Internet use management for a Web 2.0 World.
Should be available January. These will be narrated slides presentations
with reproducible handouts - with CLE credit available.


Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use

Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social
Aggression, Threats, and Distress (Research Press)

Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens: Helping Young People Learn to Use the
Internet Safely and Responsibly (Jossey-Bass)

Please note: All LM_NET postings are protected by copyright law.
  You can prevent most e-mail filters from deleting LM_NET postings
  by adding LM_NET@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU to your e-mail address book.
To change your LM_NET status, e-mail to:
In the message write EITHER: 1) SIGNOFF LM_NET  2) SET LM_NET NOMAIL
 3) SET LM_NET MAIL  4) SET LM_NET DIGEST  * Allow for confirmation.
 * LM_NET Help & Information:
 * LM_NET Archive:
 * EL-Announce with LM_NET Select:
 * LM_NET Supporters:
 * LM_NET Wiki:

LM_NET Mailing List Home