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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Should Vermont Schools be Teaching Internet Safety?

Virginia is the first state to put Internet safety classes into action as being mandatory, but Texas and Illinois have also passed legislation to have some form of classes in the near future. Judi Westberg Warren of Web Wise Kids, a non-profit organization providing free lessons to schools to teach 11 to 16-year-olds about Web safety, said that other states are also considering similar legislation. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that in 2006, 13% of children between the ages of 10 an 17 that were online had received unwanted sexual advances, and 4% of those children had been asked for sexually explicit or naked photos of themselves.

The Virginia program is attempting to safeguard the children by educating the students as well as the parents. To the children, they are trying to explain never to meet anyone you meet solely online, as well as trying to remember that anything you post today could come back to haunt you years from now when applying to a university or a job. For the parents, they are trying to explain that they should install filtering software as well keeping computers in common areas of the home so they can monitor their child’s activities while online.

Virginia Schools Start To Teach Internet Safety

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I think it would be a wise choice to enact a program like this in Vermont. Kids and parents should be alarmed at the amount of sleaze on the internet. Many kids are exposed to crap and never tell an adult. This makes it difficult to get accurate data. I would bet that the numbers are probably higher. I've seen most everything on the web there is to see, but every once in a while a teenager will out do me with a ..."check this out!". I'm always amazed at the maturity of some of the subject matter, but honestly, it's usually pretty funny...

If courses in school do nothing more than raise awareness of internet safety and security, they have done a great deal. It's amazing how many people are oblivious to any level of protection beyond what came on their computer out of the box. By keeping trends and issues at the front of an educational program, it would help insulate our real world lives from the net world by adding a layer of education to protect us all.
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