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Teen Blogging in Schools
By Kathi Collum


November 13, 2005

I truly enjoyed Mr. Davin's letter. I thought he did an excellent job of balancing both sides of the equation. In order to clarify our stance, I wanted to share the following:

Parents Unite has a primary goal of increasing awareness regarding these sites and I think that goal has been sorely overlooked by the salacious elements of the story. Some believe that we are seeking to be some sort of "Big Brother" or "Internet Police" and nothing can be farther from the truth. Each and every member of Parents Unite treasures our constitutional rights and we understand that regardless of race, creed, gender or age- all Americans are entitled to these rights, including the rights to free speech and freedom of expression.

Parents Unite has a set of goals the greater of which, are to reduce youth alcohol and drug use in Juneau. The internet usage got lumped in by the sheer fact that some of our youth were touting their risky behaviors on these sites. As a result we decided that it was time to increase awareness in the following manner:

First, inform the parents and guardians of our children that this activity was going on so that they could take the opportunity to talk to their kids about the dangerous situations they may be placing themselves in. We have found that an overwhelming majority of parents in Juneau had no idea that their children were posting to these sites, much less the content of those postings. Parents need to know so that they can better prepare their children.

Second, inform the kids that this is how they are presenting themselves to the world. If they do not desire their parents, teachers, employers, college recruiters, the police, or others to see them in this light then they should be more selective about what they are posting. The world is rapidly catching up to the information age and sometimes too much information is not a good thing.

To that end, we have in fact requested that the Juneau School District restrict access to these sites on school computers. It is such a common sense solution. As a taxpayer it seems to me that school teachers are there to teach, not to spend their class time wandering the room monitoring every computer to make sure that their students are not using district technology inappropriately. Likewise, I thought students were there to learn, not instant message their friends during Lit Class. There is plenty of time in the course of a day to socialize with their friends in that manner they don t need to be doing it during class. For those that say some kids don t have computers at home- there are computers at the public library that allow free access to these sites and the hours of operation are quite reasonable. I resent that our children think that they have an inalienable right to chit chat on the internet with their friends when they are supposed to be learning. In the wake of the No Child Left Behind Act, we are doing an extreme disservice to the students who are there to learn and get an education by allowing this behavior to continue.

How hard can it be to institute a simple block on a website so that our schools can get back to the business of education? If kids want to access these sites, that's great - just do it on their own time and on some other computer.

In regards to Mr. Davin's comment that treating the symptom is not going to cure the problem, he couldn't be more on target. We would like to see Juneau Schools treat this symptom so that we can move on to the real work of curing the problem.

Kathi Collum
Parents Unite- Juneau
Juneau, AK - USA

Related Viewpoint:

letter Blogging Worries Parents By Christopher Davin - PA - USA




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