Collaboration

Virginia mandates Internet safety lessons

Virginia became the first state to make Internet safety classes compulsory for public schools. These classes will be for all safety levels, and represents of several measures to protect young Web users.

Virginia became the first state to make Internet safety classes compulsory for public schools. These classes will be for all safety levels and represents one of several measures to protect young Web users.

Understandably, this mandate came amid concerns that children are a vector for online sex offenders. This comes against a backdrop of increased Internet-related crime.

Excerpt from WDBF7:

In a recent presentation at a suburban Richmond high school, Virginia assistant attorney general Gene Fishel flashed an online social-networking profile a 15-year-old who says she enjoys being around boys and wants to meet new people. The real profile user turned out to be a 31-year-old man convicted of sexually abusing 11 children he met online and sentenced to a 45-year prison term.

Other states such as Texas and Illinois have also passed laws pertaining to Internet safety education. Unlike Virginia, however, the classes are not mandatory The feeling is that such efforts are long overdue as the paradigm shift that is the Internet has enabled criminals to reach more victims -- and faster, than before.

Do you think that all states should quickly implement such classes? Or should instructions on Internet safety best be left to parents?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

9 comments
keith.wiley
keith.wiley

the biggest problem with this idea is that you're turning something as important as children's safety on the internet over to organizations that have their own agendas with various things. I can imagine that the school boards and teacher's unions will have their own definitions of what students need to be "protected" against. If it works most places as it does here, the last thing that the school board or the teaching staff wants is actual input from the parents of the children involved.

paulmah
paulmah

Do you think that all states should quickly implement such classes? Or should instructions on Internet safety best be left to parents?

bmurtaugh
bmurtaugh

I've noticed, not only in the grocery stores: that Parents aren't involved with raising their children. (Not every Parent). I belive the X and Y generation are now teaching their parents. I have an 8 yr old son that has surely taught me a few things! Parents NEED to get more involved with their family, what's going on, who are their friends and the parents of these friends. It's great VA is moving in this direction BUT, who will be teaching, what material will be presented and are they up on the next generation of attachs? *I feel it MUST be a continual education experience starting in Elementary... It would be nice to see Parents being educated as well. There's classes at the Public Library for parents, 1 to 5 people attend. NO Time, NO Interest, NO whatever - it doesn't work. Bottom line - Parents NEED to be interested in there family and willing to be Parents!

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...and a current tech professional, I would say that this sounds like a good idea in theory, but I'd be leery of how it is carried out in practice. As someone else noted in a post, a good deal of teachers are not as computer literate as would be necessary in order to have this training prove effective. Additionally, this is something that should be carried on through the course of time, and not just some one-time, two-hour seminar that is quickly forgotten (making it a cornerstone of the school's library program for a quarter would be the way to go, I'd think). Finally, it wouldn't be a bad idea to actually have external professionals (Police officers that handle cyber-crime, computer forensic professionals, etc, etc) come in and speak to the students on this point. Increasingly, students are the victims of crimes initiated via online mediums. It is far past the time to address the situation in a whole scale manner. I'm just not sure if the resources and planning are in place to make it happen effectively in the manner that the State of Virginia envisions.

flowcom
flowcom

I think its good. However, as the others have stated, parents and teachers need to be learn more as well. I am a believer of awareness. The children should be aware and know what is potentialy dangerous to them. Maybe it will help Chris Hanson, find another line of work. (No offense Chris) Hopefully, the lessons will be a well planned course and the students can actually take from it and really learn. I just hope it is not a job newly made to employ someone buddy and not what they really intend to do with it, which is to take tax money money or something else. I live in VA and my daughter is in 9th grade, so I will be looking out for this.

RFink
RFink

This is a tough one. On one hand the parents are responsible for their children and on the other hand they're clueless. Personally I think the parents shouldn't let their children on the Internet until they educate themselves first. Like everything else in life, you make sure it's safe before you let your kids loose.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

I?m of the opinion that the parents should attend as well as the kids. The average parent has no idea of what?s out there, what?s safe or what?s dangerous. For example, I once observed a class room full of ?computer literate? adults get a hardcore biology lesson when they we asked to get to the White House web site. Forty percent of them didn?t even know the difference between .com and .gov, so how can they be expected to teach their children to be anything other than victims?

LarryBoy2
LarryBoy2

I'd have to agree with you. One of the primary responsibilities of parents is teaching our children. Too often parents hand that responsibility over to people who don't always have their children's best interests at heart. Parents need to understand the dangers of the Internet and teach their children accordingly. They also should monitor their children's Internet activity. As a parent myself, my still young children will not be given access to the Internet until they are old enough to understand the benefits and dangers involved. It's just like teaching them to be wary of strangers they meet in person.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Most of the most clueless not-coms I know are teachers.