Virginia, the state that houses NCMEC and AOL, has enacted a policy that schools must now facilitate classes that help keeps kids safe on the Web. Before I shoot it down, I want to say that this is a step in the right direction; I just don’t believe that the fear of online predators is all that realistic.
For ages, AOL had it ingrained in our minds that every person we interact with on the Internet is a middle-aged, sweaty, hairy, ostensibly sociopathic, wearing a wife-beater who kidnaps kids. This persona has been solidified by their Parental Controls service, built on the premise of fear. Whenever we see a news story about child abduction, they always portray an actor who looks shady (similar to my previous description). This is the first image that people think of when they think of “child molester,” unlike the fact they blend in just like the rest of us.
Having that said, Virginia has agreed to have schools educate their students on the dangers of the Web. After I reviewed the curriculum [PDF Warning], It’s fear-mongering propaganda.
I saw nothing in the curriculum suggesting that students debate and discuss both sides of legislation, the impact of potential new laws on the Internet, limitations of those said laws. What about discussing the bills that were shot down in the past, or succeeded today for American History? (Even if so, only students in the 12th grade are encouraged to critically think with the data they obtain.)
What about educating them on Social Engineering, Botnets, 419 Scams, Phishing, Spyware/Viruses and heck, Online Advertising? These are the real dangers that should be educated about. Not, “don’t talk to strangers…” hypocrisy. Social Engineering would probably be the most powerful lesson, because not only can you avert child molesters, but you can become a successful sales person, manipulate others in the business world and can properly secure financial assets.
About a year ago, I was planning on engaging in a debate the facts on child endangerment on the Web, since social media engages children; conversely, legislation engages the industry to adopt best practices. I look back at what I was planning to publish and agree it was a bit over the top since it does question everything that Internet users were told by corporations. As you can see, it was never published but I will revisit the topic again. Here’s the gist of it …children that are abducted are not abducted by means of the Internet.
I don’t mean any disrespect to NCMEC — they are an excellent clearinghouse for directing law enforcement to child endangerment. I just want their propaganda to be balanced when you are vetting it through the schools.
As you can see, I’m quite opinionated on the subject, so I’ll hold it here, for now. What do you think about this?