Your Ultimate Guide to Student and School Internet Safety: Part 2
The final installation of this two-part series explores how to protect school networks from viruses and student misuse by screening outside devices, blocking inappropriate content and ensuring network visibility.
Photo via Flickr, Brian Lane Winfield Moore.
Get Your School Population Involved
In addition to putting technology safeguards in place, “it is important to make certain that you are always educating students and faculty about best practices,” Kelly says. “[The education] should be regular, consistent and easy to understand.”
At Anaheim Union, students receive information about the district’s Internet use policy each year as part of their school registration packet.
“Because technology evolves every year, there always seems to be something new we need to address,” Greenwood says. The district’s Internet policy is available on its Web site and includes a list of prohibitions, as well as tips on “netiquette.”
“You want to get the whole population involved. If your district is going to allow student-owned or faculty-owned assets onto the network, then you should provide training and education for those students and faculty about your policy and what the acceptable use should be for those devices,” Andrus explains.
“If you let the population understand what you expect, you typically end up with a better result.”
Block Inappropriate Content at Your School
Twenty-five states have laws requiring Internet filtering in publicly funded schools or libraries. Most of these laws only require that school boards adopt Internet use policies that prevent minors from accessing sexually explicit or obscene material.
On the other hand, some states do require that schools install filtering software on school computers.
Anaheim Union High School District in Anaheim, Calif., has had a content filter and firewall in place for quite some time. “We
also have a content monitoring product that doesn’t prevent students from doing anything, but it gives us visibility into the network if students are finding a way around the barriers that we’ve put up to comply with CIPA (the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act),” says Erik Greenwood, the director of education and information technology for Anaheim Union.
CIPA requires schools that receive funding for Internet access or internal connection from the federal E-rate program to block access to pictures that are obscene or harmful to minors.
In addition, under CIPA, schools must adopt an Internet safety policy that addresses the following:
- Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet
- The safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications
- Unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online
- Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors
- Measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.
How to Create an Anti-Cyberbullying Policy
While legislation about cyberbullying is pending in several states, school districts should be aware that they are within their legal rights to intervene in cyberbullying incidents (including those that occur off-campus) if the cyberbullying disrupts the educational environment.
The Cyberbullying Research Center suggests that anti-bullying policies include the following:
- Specific definitions for harassment, intimidation and bullying (including the electronic variants)
- Graduated consequences and remedial actions
- Procedures for reporting
- Procedures for investigating
- Specific language explaining that if a student’s off-campus speech or behavior results in “substantial disruption of the learning environment,” the student can be disciplined
- Procedures for preventing bullying (workshops, staff training, curriculum enhancements)
For more information, www.cyberbullying.us.