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Advocate editorial board opinion: Stopping students' access to Internet almost impossible

By By the Advocate Editorial Board
Jan. 17, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 16, 2012 at 7:17 p.m.


We were pleased to see that our school districts monitor and restrict what students are accessing on the Internet.

The story of Pamela Toni and Christopher Fritz's 15-year-old meeting people online and running away for 18 days had to be frightening and would be for any parent.

The teen - possibly influenced by what he saw or who he met on the Internet - had tried to access hundreds of websites during his time at school, and he was successful in bypassing the school's filters to see some sites, including sites filled with violence.

We are sure the school district is doing everything it can to prevent students from online chat rooms, dating sites and other such sites. The problem is really difficult because students who are determined will find a way around filters and blocks.

We think what will be effective prevention for these students begins at home. It is more important than ever to be a good parent by providing guidance and instilling good values.

We know this is easier said than done because youths can go to a friend's house and access Internet or see R-rated movies, but the effort to be a good parent must be put forth to ensure youth stays on the right track.

Of course, the school districts can work on addressing inappropriate sites being accessed by students further.

We know it is a heavy burden for school districts, but technology is getting better and better, and tracking should be easier than ever now.

The Children's Internet Protection Act of 2001 requires filters on pictures that are obscene, child pornography or other images that may be harmful to minors, as well as create policies for Internet use.

But the law does not require school districts to track what students are accessing.

We think tracking is a good idea and would help to block questionable sites, as well. However, parents should be the first line of defense against inappropriate websites and provide guidance.

No matter how hard we try, however, students who want to will access inappropriate websites.

But we can remain ever vigilant and be present to offer a better path to good values and morals.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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