Protecting Children on the Internet – Cyber Safety & Security

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With the rise in bullying incidents, many of which are occurring over the internet, it may be a good time to review a few of the laws that were designed to combat this and other harmful activities towards children – including sexual predators.

Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

In 2001, the FCC issued rules pertaining to CIPA. Schools and libraries that receive discounts from the E-Rate program for internet access must have an Internet Safety Policy and they must certify it.  This policy shall address (1) obscene; (2) child pornography; or (3) harmful to minors.  Prior to the implementation of the policy, schools and libraries must hold a public meeting and notify users and parents of the policy.  In addition, schools and libraries are required to implement policies to monitor the online activities of minors.  This section of CIPA presents difficulties due to the invasion of privacy and violations of civil rights, especially in California.  Schools and libraries need to make sure that their policies are not infringing upon privacy rights.  In addition, schools and libraries need to ensure that they authorize someone to remove blocks and filters for appropriate research and adult use, as the filtering of some content may be viewed as a form of censorship.

The FCC has set a deadline of July 2012 for certifying that your school or library has implemented its Internet Safety Policy.

S. 1492 (110th) Broadband Data Improvement Act

Section 215 of SubTitle A of Title II of this Act, known as Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act amended the Communications  Act of 1934.  It now requires all elementary and secondary schools to educate minors about appropriate behavior while online, especially while participating in social networking sites and chat rooms.  This applies if your school provides access to the internet.

Bullying Laws in California

Gov. Jerry Brown, during the 2011 legislative session past three new bills aimed at the total annihilation of bullying in California public schools. The three assembly bills are 9, 746, and 1156.  The basis of these three assembly bills are to define the term bullying and cyber bullying and electronic act. In addition the legislation seeks to require public schools to develop and implement written policies addressing bullying. The policies should cover the identification of bullying and the process for reporting bullying.

The other outgrowth of these three pieces of legislation is that it encourages public schools in the state of California to incorporate bullying policies into their comprehensive safe schools plans (CSSP).  However, the legislation does not require this, but merely encourages it.

Bullying Laws in Georgia

O.C.G.A. 20-2-751.4 requires the Department of Education to develop a model online safety program.  It also offers the opportunity for local Boards to incorporate a component on online internet safety into it’s instructional program.

What’s Next?

Risk Managers should locate their current policies and review them to ensure that they are in compliance with the above acts.  The Comprehensive School Safety Plan should also be reviewed to ensure that it contains a bullying policy.  If your school does not have these policies, then writing them or locating a consultant who can is at the top of your list.