Many U.S. School will require Internet safety

The Federal Communications Commission (U.S.) recently announced that it will require schools receiving funds for Internet access from the E-rate program, to address issues related to student cyber bullying. Schools will have to create policies that ensure appropriate use of social media applications such as:

-Preventing improper use of networking sites like Facebook and MySpace

-Maintaining Internet safety policies and filters to prevent access to inappropriate content

-Provide online safety education

The FCC will release a resource package, Stop Cyberbullying Toolkit for Schools, on November 22, 2010.

Individuals studying the effects of social media on youth are happy to see this development. The increasing use of social media and easy access to both the Internet and palm held devices, means that information spreads quickly and unchecked through all schools levels, leading to conflicts, depression, and in extreme cases, physical harm.

According to a Canadian study funded by Bell Canada, many children and youth experienced computer based bullying including:

-27% described incidents which made them “fell bad”
-22% had rumours spread about them
-18% had someone pretend to be them online
-11% were threatened

In Canada charges can be laid for cyber bullying using the Human Rights Act which protects people from hate or discrimination based on matters including an individual’s physical size, age, ethnic, national or racial origins, colour, disability, and sexual preference. The punishment for computer crimes and cyber bullying is a fine up to $50,000. However, as the U.S. is doing, Canadians should seek to prevent bullying rather than just lay charges after the damage is done.

FCC Requires schools to address Cyber bullying

Canadian Youth and Cyberbullying Study 2008

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