I have, in my professional life, had to deal with the dangers of having children connected to the world at large. The danger really spawns from the anonymous nature of internet use. Because of this, people seem to view things they do online as somehow detached from who they really are. This allows the worst part of people, who may not otherwise have been bullies or predators, to surface. I suppose this speaks to human nature and what exactly prevents people from committing crimes. For many, it is simply the fear of getting caught. When these people are on-line, that fear is removed, putting the public, and especially students, at-risk.
The problem is how to best protect our students. To not allow students access to the internet or to severely limit their ability to on-line information and communication seems anti-intellectual, perhaps akin to a medieval book-burning. The best solutions we have been able to generate contain little that could be categorized as innovative. Specifically, we sent letters home encouraging parents to monitor their children's computer use, we encouraged our own staff to be more vigilant with respect to our supervision, and we had an updated security system put in our computer systems division-wide.
Will any of these precautions affect a change? I doubt it. The fact is that students have almost unlimited access to the largely unregulated world of cyber-space. This provides bullies and predators with ample opportunity to find victims. I realize that negative incidents have been sensationalized by the media, but I have seen the dangers first-hand during this school year and it frightens me.