Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Finally... some clear thinking about internet safety

I was thrilled to see Steve Dembo mention a proposed law in Illinois regarding the Internet Safety Education Act. It's about time that we proactively address this serious issue instead of reactively ban sites (while inadvertently blocking really good content in the process) in public access location (schools, libraries, etc...).

Proposed by Senator Dan Kotowski, this legislation:
Creates the Internet Safety Education Act to inform and protect students from inappropriate or illegal communications and solicitation and to require school districts to provide education about Internet threats and risks. Creates the Internet Safety Education Alliance under the authority of the Office of the Attorney General. Amends the State Finance Act to create the Internet Safety Education Fund. Amends the School Code to mandate the provision by every public school of instruction and discussion on effective methods by which students may recognize and report inappropriate, illegal, or threatening communications on the Internet on or before the start of the 2008-2009 school year.
Not only good thinking, but also financial backing! I love it. Hopefully, we'll see legislation like this proposed, (funded and approved) around the country in the very near future. It's time we educate kids about the dangers on the internet instead of pretending that they don't exist by removing them from sight in schools and libraries.

When digging deeper into the legalize of the proposed act, I discovered they intent to:
  • examine and certify Internet safety curriculum
  • consult with regional and national experts
  • recommend additional topics for Internet safety instruction
  • provide training for local law enforcement and educators on effective preparation of you for existing and emerging Internet threats
Here's one final excerpt identifying what should be covered in the curriculum:

Each public school shall adopt a curriculum f0r:

Internet safety instruction of students grades kindergarten through 12. The curriculum must be age appropriate and providefor a minimum of 2.5 hours of instruction on each of the class following subjects:
(1) Safe and responsible navigation and communication on social networking websites, chat rooms, electronic mail, bulletin boards, instant messenger, and other means of communication on the Internet.
(2) Recognizing and reporting solicitations by sexualpredators online.
(3) Dangers of transmitting personal information on the Internet.
(4) Recognizing and avoiding unsolicited or deceptive communications received online.
(5) Recognizing and reporting -bullying.

Way to go, Senator Kotowski. I sincerely hope this act passes and starts a national trend for educating our children about the dangers of the internet without trying to solve the problem with ineffective band-aid solutions that limit the effective use of instructional technology available to educators and students.

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