Local News

Garner Students Suspended for Misuse of Internet

Posted March 3, 1998

— Some students at East Garner Middle School say they just stumbled onto an X-rated web page. The school handed out punishment anyway. One parent can't believe his child was suspended for logging onto Internet pornography.

The incident happened a few days ago when three sixth graders used a library computer to look at a Lucy Lawless fan site. She's the actress who portrays the popular Zena Warrior Princess on television.

They got in trouble when the computer's software filter did not block what came up next... nude pictures of another actress.

Computers at East Garner Middle School are supposed to be protected by a software program called Surf Watch which blocks adult or X-rated sites among others.

Leo Tapler, a parent of one of the suspended students went to the school today to see what happened as his son clicked on the web site.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."As an option within that web site he just simply clicked on another button and up they came. (And Surf Watch didn't stop that?) No, and they have Surf Watch on those computers at the school."Many schools and individuals use filters likeSurf Watch, but they must be updated continually to be most effective.

To protect itself and students, the Wake County system requires parents to sign an agreement that says, among other things:"Sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures" is not permitted. Privileges can be revoked and other disciplinary action can be taken."Tapler has no argument with the rule but wants access blocked more effectively.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."As responsible as the school is for the material that would be in the library, I would assume that the school would be as responsible for the material that they're letting the kids have access to on the Internet."Adult sites use tricks to pull in visitors. That's a problem for young students.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."He's only in the sixth grade. He doesn't have a computer at home so he doesn't have any experience at all with surfing the web."The school system says it's up to parents to set standards and make sure children understand what's expected.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."Warn your kids of it and I would say maybe just be aware that everything that a child will be exposed to in school is not necessarily what you'll want them exposed to."Mr. Tapler's advice should be heeded. These students took their mistaken "find" and printed it on the library computer rather than pointing out that the filter did not work. Now they'll suffer the consequences.

Two popular programs designed to filter out sites inappropriate for children areNet Nannyand Surf Watch. They screen web sites, chat rooms, newsgroups and e-mail. But experts warn they won't always keep inquisitive kids, or computer whizes away.

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