Schools are supposed to be safe learning environments, where technology is an educational benefit. However, over the past several years, it’s become clear that schools are not doing enough to protect children from being exposed to pornography on school grounds or school electronic devices.
One young man recalls how he was exposed to pornography at school:
…the first time I watched porn was when I was in year six (aged 11) and we were all on the school laptops, and someone at the front of the class typed in [a pornographic website] and everyone behind was watching. Then they all typed it into their laptops and then the whole class was streaming porn. It was weird.” — Max, 27.
Statement originally published in Cosmopolitan.com.au on October 04, 2017
Most schools and libraries are not using effective filtering on both the school computers and Wi-Fi, despite laws requiring them. In 2000 Congress passed (and the Supreme Court later upheld) the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)—a federal law that imposes requirements to filter Internet access to obscene pornography, child pornography, and other material that is harmful to minors.
These requirements must be met in order for any school or library to receive funding from a governmental program called the E-rate program, which makes technology more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. However, CIPA requirements have been egregiously under-enforced, so schools and libraries are not being held accountable to filter.
This lack of accountability and enforcement is leaving children at high risk for being exposed to pornographic content in schools, which leaves them vulnerable to a host of public health harms including compulsive use or addiction, decreased understanding of consent, body image insecurity, STIs, and more.