Internet use is growing enormously every day. What does this mean for parents?

Here is some information about how TPS works to make exploring the Internet safe and educational in our schools, followed by information taken from a brochure, "A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety", created by the FBI.

 

Computer Safety and Toledo Public Schools

Toledo Public Schools employs a number of measures designed to create safe educational use of school computers and other communication devices by both students and staff. The district uses a filtering system to block both student and staff access to known objectionable sites. This filtering system is constantly being updated to include sites springing up at any time that are deemed inappropriate for students and/or staff to visit.

Given the vastness of the Internet, no filtering system guarantees an ability to filter ALL harmful sites. Therefore, TPS students and staff are actively encouraged to report objectionable sites to school officials who can add such sites to those blocked by TPS. Also, staff is required to monitor student usage of school computers.

Students and staff sign Internet use agreement documents that govern acceptable use of school computers. Violations of the district's acceptable use policies can result in revoking a user's privileges to use the district's electronic equipment. If a violation of law has occurred, the district will turn such information over to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

With the evolution of computing devices to include cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and even some video-gaming systems, the district's policy extends to the use of any of these devices while on school property. Though a student's cell phone is private property, misuse of that device at school can result in confiscation of the phone that then has to be retrieved either at the school or at the district's central security department.

The power of the Internet as a learning resource cannot be overstated. But like all powerful technologies or tools, there can be dangers associated with use of the resource. Keeping students safe while they are becoming educated is an overriding priority of Toledo Public Schools. So the district wants to be proactive in helping educate parents about computer use not only while students are supervised in school but also when they may go on-line at home, or other non-school location.

There are many resources available to parents that provide information, good advice, and guidance for dealing with student exploration of the Internet and other communication vehicles. Millions of students go on-line every day, and most are safe. The way to stay safe is to understand the dangers and follow some simple rules for keeping out of trouble.

Here are just a few resources worth checking out by both students and parents:

 

A Parent's Guide To Internet Safety

(The following information is provided by the U. S. Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Investigation)

COMPUTER SEX-OFFENDERS

Internet SafetyWhile on-line computer exploration opens a world of possibilities for children, expanding their horizons and exposing them to different cultures and ways of life, they can be exposed to dangers as they hit the road exploring the information highway. There are individuals who attempt to sexually exploit children through the use of on-line services and the Internet. Some of these individuals gradually seduce their targets through the use of attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts. These individuals are often willing to devote considerable amounts of time, money, and energy in this process. They listen to and empathize with the problems of children. They will be aware of the latest music, hobbies, and interests of children. These individuals attempt to gradually lower children's inhibitions by slowly introducing sexual context and content into their conversations.

There are other individuals, however, who immediately engage in sexually explicit conversation with children. Some offenders primarily collect and trade child pornographic images, while others seek face-to-face meetings with children via on-line contacts. It is important for parents to understand that children can be indirectly victimized through conversation, i.e. "chat," as well as the transfer of sexually explicit information and material. Computer-sex offenders may also be evaluating children they come in contact with on-line for future face-to-face contact and direct victimization. Parents and children should remember that a computer-sex offender can be any age or sex the person does not have to fit the caricature of a dirty, unkempt, older man wearing a raincoat to be someone who could harm a child.

Children, especially adolescents, are sometimes interested in and curious about sexuality and sexually explicit material. They may be moving away from the total control of parents and seeking to establish new relationships outside their family. Because they may be curious, children/adolescents sometimes use their on-line access to actively seek out such materials and individuals. Sex offenders targeting children will use and exploit these characteristics and needs. Some adolescent children may also be attracted to and lured by on-line offenders closer to their age who, although not technically child molesters, may be dangerous. Nevertheless, they have been seduced and manipulated by a clever offender and do not fully understand or recognize the potential danger of these contacts.

What Are Signs That Your Child Might Be At Risk On-line?
You find pornography on your child's computer.
Your child receives phone calls from men you don't know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don't recognize.
Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don't know.
Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.
Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Communicating With A Sexual Predator On-line?
When should you immediately contact local/state police, the FBI, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children?
What Can You Do To Minimize The Chances Of An On-line Exploiter Victimizing Your Child?
Instruct your children that they should NEVER:
My child has received an e-mail advertising for a pornographic website, what should I do?
Is any service safer than the others?
Should I just forbid my child from going on-line?