Back to School(ing) 2020
With countless children across the nation continuing their education online amidst COVID-19, they’re at a greater risk of exposure to the harmful effects of pornography that is all too often and easily accessible on school devices and databases. Parents and educators are overwhelmed and anxious trying to mitigate the many risks and unknowns of the upcoming school year. Combatting pornography accessible through school-issued technology is beyond their individual capacity to control, especially in our current context. They need support and concrete measures to be taken by all accountable entities.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s 2020 Back to School(ing) Campaign aims to equip families and educators with information, resources, and actions they can take to keep kids safe online as vast numbers of students start the school year in a virtual learning environment. Over the four week campaign, we’ll feature the people, organizations, and entities that can have the greatest impact ensuring a safe online learning environment, specifically: families, school administrators, corporations, and the US federal government.
- The ABCs of Safe Online Home Learning
- Student Online S-A-F-E-T-Y: Is your school making the grade?
- Corporations in the Classroom: What are Google and EBSCO teaching our kids?
- Promoting Pornography-free Schools: The Role of the US Dept. of Education
- Download Protect Young Minds’ Back to School Online Safety Planner and 4 Safe & Sane Strategies for Virtual School
- Check out the FBI’s Stop Sextortion campaign
Schools and libraries should serve as safe and healthy havens for children to expand their minds, strengthen their character, and build positive relationships with peers and adults.
Unfortunately, sexually exploitive material is all too often easily accessible in these learning environments. Research shows that exposure to pornography and sexually explicit material puts children and adolescents at risk for a host of harms that threaten their intellectual growth, productivity, socio-emotional stability, relationship-building capacity, and healthy sexual development and behavior.
Schools and libraries can and should do more to foster safe, healthy, productive learning environments for children: and that means doing everything possible to ensure our kids are not exposed to pornography or sexually explicit material.
Five ways schools and libraries can promote pornography-free learning environments:
- Ensure adequate Internet and Wi-Fi filters are in place and functioning properly.
- Reject online school research databases that expose children to pornography, normalize sexually violent and risky acts, and promote prostitution.
- Secure filters and safety controls on school-issued devices like Chromebooks, iPads, laptops before they are distributed to children (*this is especially critical when students take home devices and/or are using devices for virtual learning).
- Train school and library staff on Internet safety, critical porn analysis, the harms of pornography exposure on minors, and protocols and policies for when a student or minor library patron is exposed to pornography.
- Educate students about Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety with clear instructions on what to do if they come across sexually exploitative material.
We need partnerships and policies between corporations, school administrations, and parents that prioritize the social, emotional, and physical well-being of children. Stronger protections against pornography on school-distributed devices is a concrete step in the right direction.
Continue reading for more resources and information about how we can all work toward Safe Schools, Safe Libraries.
Three ways schools and libraries are fostering unhealthy and unsafe learning environments:
- Online school databases that expose children to pornography, normalize sexually violent and risky acts, and promote prostitution.
- EBSCO Information Services offers online library resources to public and private schools (K-12), public libraries, and more. These are online resources provided by schools that children often use to do research for a school paper, or to complete other online homework. In its advertising for schools, it promises “fast access to curriculum-appropriate content.” However, several of EBSCO’s products provide easy access to hardcore pornography sites and extremely graphic sexual content. Innocent searches provide pornographic results. Via a system that bypasses school Internet filters, EBSCO brings the dark world of XXX to America’s elementary, middle, and high school children. Learn more here.
- Inadequate, or non-existent, computer and Wi-Fi filters to prevent exposure to pornography.
- 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.
- Inadequate, or non-existent, filters to block pornography on school-owned devices like iPads or laptops that are distributed to children.
- Beyond the responsibility of schools to create safe environments on their physical property, they also have a responsibility to create safe learning environments on school-owned devices they distribute. Schools around the country now give students iPads or laptops or other electronic devices with few, if any, monitoring systems. This is unacceptable. School administration responsibility extends beyond the school grounds—whether that is regarding a school-sponsored trip, or a school-sponsored device. On any fieldtrip schools would not allow students to be exposed to violent, degrading pornographic images, and so too they must take the necessary precautions to ensure school-distributed electronic devices are not exposing children to harmful material.
This is a national outrage.
Parents and guardians trust the schools and libraries to hold themselves accountable to a higher standard of protecting children from sexually exploitive, objectifying, and damaging material. Yet, news reports of children gaining access to porn in schools and public libraries are a regular occurrence.
Pornography turns once-safe community schools and libraries into a XXX space that fosters child sexual abuse, sexual assault, exhibitionism, stalking, and lewd behavior in libraries across the country.
Quick facts about the harms of pornography:
- A 2014 study found that increased pornography use is linked to decreased brain matter in the areas of motivation and decision-making, impaired impulse control, and desensitization to sexual reward.
- A 2015 meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries found that internationally the consumption of pornography was significantly associated with increases in verbal and physical aggression, among males and females alike
- As a result of viewing pornography women reported lowered body image, criticism from their partners regarding their bodies increased pressure to perform acts seen in pornographic films, and less actual sex, while men reported being more critical of their partners’ body and less interested in actual sex.
- A 2015 study found that men’s frequency of pornography use is positively linked to body image insecurity regarding muscularity and body fat, and to increased anxiety in romantic relationships.
For citations and further research, visit https://endsexualexploitation.org/publichealth/
Is this the kind of sexual education we want our communities to promote?
The good news is you can make a difference through the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s Safe Schools, Safe Libraries project.
Our Safe Schools, Safe Libraries project is a grassroots campaign designed to empower parents throughout the country with the tools needed to identify the local schools and public libraries where children are at risk.
Using our tactics, dozens of concerned citizens around the country have been able to get their local schools and libraries to improve policies.
We provide you with three “getting started” packets to help you protect the children in your community. Thank you for taking a stand!
- Getting Started: Online Library Databases
- Getting Started: Filtering in Schools and on School-Distributed Devices (Upcoming)
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Sign the Letter: Tell Google To Make Chromebooks Safe for Students
Help Pass the EARN IT ACT to protect kids online!
Introduced by a bipartisan group of Senators in March 2020, the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act, S. 3398) is designed to increase Big Tech accountability for two hideous problems related to the sexual exploitation of children:
1) Widespread availability of child sexual abuse material (CSAM, also known as child pornography) online;
2) Far too frequent enticement, grooming, sex trafficking, and sexual abuse of children on digital platforms.
Contact your U.S. Senators today!
Insist on Google’s Help
A majority of school-assigned or school-provided computers are Google Chromebooks. While this is a great tool for learning, often, these devices are left unprotected and students are left more vulnerable to sexual predators, pornography, bullying, and other online dangers. Join us in asking Google to help overburdened schools by automatically turning on built-in protective controls on these systems!
Have your kids been exposed to sexually explicit content through their schools?
Stop Explicit Content in School Research Systems
EBSCO Information Services offers online library resources to public and private schools (K-12), colleges and universities, public libraries, and more. In its advertising for schools, it promises “fast access to curriculum-appropriate content.” However, its Explora, Science Reference Center, Literary Reference Center, and other K-12 products, sometimes provide easy access to hardcore pornography sites and extremely graphic sexual content.
Check Your Local School’s Online Databases
Download the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s action packet “The ABCs vs XXX: How to Ensure Your School’s Online Library Databases are Pornography Free.” This is a useful tool for any concerned parent or citizen who wants to protect children from being exposed to pornography and sexually graphic materials on school online resources.
Use this Guide to Ensure Safe Filters in Your Schools, Libraries
It often just takes a few concerned citizens to simply ask for effective filters to be installed and the libraries and schools will do it! Please take on this project and lead the way in your neighborhood. Download the “Getting Started Packet” here.
Learn about the ALA’s Involvement
The ALA zealously encourages public libraries to not install Internet filters on public-access computers, thereby granting patrons—including children—the opportunity to view sexually obscene or explicit material. Learn more here.
Stay updated on these projects
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