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US School Curriculum to Include Online Safety? 137

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the more-information-is-rarely-a-bad-thing dept.
Stony Stevenson writes to mention that the US National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is pushing for school's to include cyber-security, online safety, and ethics lessons in their normal curriculum. "The National School Boards Association reported that 96 per cent of school districts claim that at least some of their teachers assign homework requiring internet use. But there is still no formal education on how to stay safe, secure and ethical online, despite the fact that the internet, like the real world, has threats and dangers which students may come across in the normal course of a day. These include communications from identity thieves, online predators and cyber-bullies."
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US School Curriculum to Include Online Safety?

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  • yea right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liquidpele (663430) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:56AM (#20261153) Journal
    I can see this working if they have a dedicated teacher that knows what he's talking about, but most teachers don't know how to be safe online either! Plus if it's mandated, it'll probably end up being a "it's illegal to copy images/music/movies from the internet" lecture every day.
    • Re:yea right (Score:3, Insightful)

      by UnderDark (869922) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:15AM (#20261437)
      Case in point:

      When I was in high school (AP Computer Science), the teacher (who knew what she was doing) would take days off and be replaced by a substitute. The only problem was that my high school classified computer programming as a math, which isn't that far off; but the substitutes would always come in and be shocked that there were computers. She would say that she was told this was a math course, and that she didn't know the first thing about programming.

      This happened about once a month.
      • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:47AM (#20262015)
        Case in point:

        When I was in high school (AP Computer Science), the teacher (who knew what she was doing) would take days off and be replaced by a substitute. The only problem was that my high school classified computer programming as a math, which isn't that far off; but the substitutes would always come in and be shocked that there were computers. She would say that she was told this was a math course, and that she didn't know the first thing about programming.

        This happened about once a month.

        You're lucky to get a sub that could teach math - in our district (a rather wealthy one) they are so desperate for subs that if you have a HS education and can pass a police check they'll hire you. Many subs are no mor ethan glorified baby sitters; a few that are former teachers or are thinking about returning to teaching once their kids are old enough to get ready by themselves actually do teach; they tend to get on the "Call them first and beg list" for their prefered school and wind up working at one school almost exclusively (and then get a job when they want to startworking again full time).
      • by Belial6 (794905) on Friday August 17, 2007 @03:24PM (#20266267)
        What was going on that kept this teacher from showing up to work? Teachers only have 180 work days out of the possible 260 weekdays. That is 80 vacation days a year. A whopping 12 week summer vacation leaves 20 days off in the remaining 9 months. That averages just over two weekdays a month off. Your complaint shouldn't be that the sub didn't know programming. Your complain should be that they didn't, or couldn't fire an employee that didn't seem capable of showing up to work. Then on top of that, we all get to listen to their complaining about how their yearly salary isn't big enough.

        To bring it back on subject... Do you really want someone like that teaching your kid ethics?
        • by hobbesmaster (592205) on Friday August 17, 2007 @04:08PM (#20266939)
          Uh, he said that he didn't show up to teach his class, not that he didn't show up to work. If he is only qualified as a "computer teacher" then odds are he is also a computer tech support person for the district, if its a smaller district, he may be the ONLY person in the district that supports their computers. On days when he was required to be elsewhere during the time of the class due to his primary job duties, then he'd need a sub. At my school we had someone with this role somewhat reverse - he was a teacher (ap compsci and ap calc), but also a tech support person. His duties however were restricted to teacher's personal computers in their classrooms (the computer labs and servers were someone else, but he was also responsible for all the middle and elementary schools that fed to that high school). I can easily see someone with a teaching cert and IT experience being hired on as a part time teacher and a full time IT person - those salaries might add up to a full IT person somewhere else. This is entirely possible if he had the first class of the day at a high school. Of course this person would be on call all the time, and if the servers went down at night and he needed to work through the morning, he'd need a sub for that one class. From the way that school district under funds their support infrastructure, I can see this happening once a month easily.
    • by twitter (104583) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:21AM (#20261527) Homepage Journal

      You know it's just going to be more of the same BS []. The overall message is always, "Big dumb companies do a lot for you and don't trust your neighbors."

    • Re:yea right (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:31AM (#20261699) Homepage Journal
      Generally speaking, American schools haven't managed to do much about good old-fashioned regular bullying for generations. Now they're supposed to solve cyber-bullying as well?
    • Re:yea right (Score:3, Interesting)

      by russ1337 (938915) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:32AM (#20261719)
      >>> it'll probably end up being a "it's illegal to copy images/music/movies from the internet" lecture every day.

      Yeah, you're probably not far from the truth there.

      In New Zealand they've just introduced a program, as reported here: []

      Actor Temuera Morrison is being used as the face of a nationwide campaign against film and television piracy.
      Secondary schools throughout New Zealand have been sent movie posters featuring Morrison for their classrooms as part of a campaign launched in Auckland today.
      The posters show Morrison appealing to school children to do their part by only buying legitimate copies of their favourite films.
      The 4000 posters recommend students "Buy Original; See Original" and have been distributed to over 2700 secondary schools across the country.
      The campaign is the initiative of the New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft, supported by the Ministry of Education.
      I think this is fucking bullshit. Why the fuck are TradeGroups getting into our schools and doing their bidding. What, are the steel unions next? Will the Printing Union be putting posters around saying "Don't use a photocopier - it's steeling!"

      Be very careful that a proposal like TFA outlines is not a wolf in sheep's clothing....
    • by bbernard (930130) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:34AM (#20261737)
      "I can see this working if they have a dedicated teacher that knows what he's talking about"

      You mean, the same as having a math teacher teach math, or a history teacher teach history? You may be on to something here...Now if only there was a way to implement such an idea...

      Of course, there are those environments, like grade schools, where one teacher often covers all the classes for a particular grade level. So with the right reference materials and training they could probably teach your 5th grader the basics of Internet safety. And just like with math or history, perhaps you re-teach some next year while adding new bits to it.
      • by liquidpele (663430) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:16PM (#20262541) Journal
        Don't be an ass. Most schools don't hire extra teachers for one class like this. They'll have someone already working there teach it (probably a vocational teacher). At a lot of schools that would mean someone under qualified for the course material involved.

        • by spikedvodka (188722) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:16PM (#20263883)
          They can't do that any more (Though of course grandfather provisions still exist)

          For a new position, the person teaching it must be "Highly qualified", this means that they must have at least a bachelor's degree, pass the state teaching test to be certified by the state DoE, and have at least 24 credits in the field that they will be teaching in.

          For High School, this would mean that the position would have to be filled by someone with 24 credit-hours in Computer saftey/ethics/etc. this "etc." would probably also include your regular computer classes, but that would be a decission for the State DoE

          for elementary school, if they can get it added to the state standards, they're all set, because all you need to be Highly Qualified for a classroom teacher elementary position is the 24 credit-hours in "Elementary Education" because it's such a wide area... that being said, some elementary school teachers have trouble finding the power switch....
          • by liquidpele (663430) on Friday August 17, 2007 @02:27PM (#20265241) Journal
            Depends. There are lots of loop holes. If they classify the class as a Math class, guess who teaches it? Who what if they classify it as Sociology and the poor psychology teacher has to teach it?

            Also, in many places if there is a lack of qualified teachers for an area (they can't find one that meets the requirements that wants to make low pay) they can hire almost anyone short term. My wife is teaching right now on a Provisional certificate (doesn't have her actual teaching cert yet, she's currently getting it along with her Masters) because GA is needy of teachers in many areas.
  • "School's"? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by nlitement (1098451) on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:57AM (#20261167)
    Who dares to let through such idiotic abuse's [sic] of the apostrophe?!
  • Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) * on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:58AM (#20261169) Homepage
    I think this is a good idea, although I would suggest making the teachers and administrators attend the class too. In most schools I've seen, most of the students know more about this stuff than the teachers do, and the teachers are a whole lot more resistant to learning about it, as they lump it in with "all that computer stuff" that they've convinced themselves they're incapable of learning.
    • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Billosaur (927319) * <> on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:03AM (#20261251) Journal

      I think an even better idea is to raise technology to an actual curriculum area, like English, Math, etc. Right now, too many schools are using teachers in other subjects who have even a little computer knowledge as computer teachers. Instead, given the prevalence of the Internet and its underlying technology, the importance of teaching kids to use the Internet properly and to give them some insight into its inner workings would seem to be a necessity in this century and beyond.

      • by eln (21727) * on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:11AM (#20261391) Homepage
        I agree that technology should be taught more in schools. When I was in high school there were only two offered computer classes, and they were electives. I think there needs to be at least one mandatory class. The problem is there is a serious shortage of people that really know computers that are willing to teach them at that level. Most of the people that are into computers are making a whole lot more money than K-12 school could provide either in the private sector or teaching at the college level. Maybe after all the big companies ship all of their IT jobs to India, there will be more computer geeks out there willing to take the pay cut to go into teaching.
      • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RealAlaskan (576404) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:30PM (#20262897) Homepage Journal
        ... raise technology to an actual curriculum area, like English, Math, etc.

        English hasn't changed dramatically in the last 100 years. We can still read Shakespeare's stuff, which are around 400 years old.

        The basics of math hasn't changed dramatically in 2,000+ years. Sure, computation got a bit easier after the decimal system became wide-spread about 1,000 years ago, but that's not a change in the fundamentals.

        20 year old technology is obsolete. I know: let's teach that in schools!

        I don't think it makes sense to teach kids things that will be quaint and better forgotten before middle age. Language and math are great choices for an ``actual curriculum area.'' Evanescent trivia isn't.

        It might be worthwhile to offer kids some high school credit for getting their teachers up to speed with that stuff, but it should be elective credit, on a par with credit for changing diapers at the nursing home.

      • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FiloEleven (602040) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:00PM (#20263553)
        I disagree. First of all, 'technology' is too broad a term for what you're describing, which is really nothing more than computer literacy. Technology encompasses pretty much every scientific and engineering advancement made since, well, ever. The fork is a product of technology, as is the Spinning Jenny, and the tennis ball, and double-pane windows, and...

        I believe that computer literacy is important, and I agree that competent teachers should be hired to teach the subject, but giving it the same importance as language, history, or mathematics is overkill and IMO detrimental. Any knowledge gained in the realm of computer use is sure to be outdated within the next decade because computers are still in their infancy. If a whole curriculum were to be put into place, we would end up with the equivalent of giving students science books from the '70s because the field moves faster than the administrative engines of our schools. Sure, you can still learn important things, but you're going to miss out on stuff that's happened in the intervening years.

        I think that in the coming years two things will happen. First, kids will be computer literate simply by being immersed in their use - we are seeing this to an extent today. Second, computers will become easier to use as we continue to make design and interface improvements. They'll never be transparent to the general populace in much the same way that cars aren't today: their use is accepted and widespread, but when they break or when something new is desired a specialist (or hobbyist) must be consulted.

        A high-school curriculum built around deeper concepts of computing, like an advanced automotive curriculum, would be hard and useless to 90% of the students forced to follow it. A class or two on computer safety, on the other hand, would be much like the Highway Safety courses offered by many high schools today: relatively lightweight, but enough information to improve the web for everyone through decreasing the spread of malware, viruses, etc.
        • by Billosaur (927319) * <> on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:26PM (#20264057) Journal

          What I am talking about is beyond computer literacy. Let's face it, most kids will take a generic science class and learn all sorts of neat and wonderful things, but it's not until they get into classes like Chemistry and Physics that they get a more in-depth picture and learn more about the scientific method and experimentation. I propose that we make computing on a par with these things. At the minimum, we have to teach people the basic skills to run their PC/laptop and surf the Internet wisely. Beyond that lies the detail of what the Internet is and how computers work, and if I'm not mistaken, those things really have not changed all that much. Servers are basically running either *nix or Microsoft platforms, languages like C, Perl, and Java are extensively used in programming, RDBMSs run off SQL for the most part, and you get around the Internet using a web browser. Versions and types of types of those technologies have changed but the basic systems are all the same. There have been no radical changes to the computer that eliminate the ability to teach the basics of how it works. It's like saying we shouldn't teach driver's ed because cars have changed so much, but while a Model T and a Prius are radically different cars, the basic structures are the same and their driving characteristics might be different but I venture to guess that you or I could drive either fairly easily given our current knowledge.

          No curriculum is static. Math, Science, Philosophy, English, Social Studies -- they've all changed and evolved over the centuries as new knowledge has come to light. However they remain the same at their core. I think computing could be treated the same way. Perhaps my use of the word "technology" was too broad, but the premise is still sound.

          • by xenocide2 (231786) on Friday August 17, 2007 @05:35PM (#20268181) Homepage
            The trouble with Computer Science is that it's not a science, directly speaking. It's more similar to engineering disciplines: you design a system to meet requirements, and analyze the design using mathematical principals. Partly, the last part has eroded as the requirements have shifted from technology to "customer logic". A large group of types of programs have computation constraints that are eased with every passing moment by improvements in computing power, enough that many people don't bother to look at Big O notation during their design, and instead focus on memory caching techniques.

            The reason that this is not a like a traditional science is that the entire system is man-made. The scientific method is intended to reveal the machinations of things nobody yet understands. We don't need to resort to the scientific method to determine the number of clock cycles a multiply takes -- we can also ask the guy who made it. Only in the case where the designer doesn't understand how his creation works would the scientific method help, and I suggest that this is a really bad approach to design.

    • by Burz (138833) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:25AM (#20261605) Journal
      It's an awesome idea. Everyone should be going through a 3-day introduction course that includes cyber-safety.

      I wonder if they will cover basic things like paying attention to SSL certificate warnings, and not executing email attachments.

      Of course, there is a lot modern OSes could do to help (but don't), like superimposing an executable signifier (such as a red exclamation mark) over the icons of all executables. User interfaces confuse people about the difference between code and data, and the spread of trojans is the unfortunate result.
      • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:19PM (#20263933) Homepage

        User interfaces confuse people about the difference between code and data, and the spread of trojans is the unfortunate result.

        In reality, the difference between code and data ends up being even more confusing than modern user interfaces would imply. Software developers seem to really enjoy the idea of embedding code in data or the other way around - so a good percentage of files are both.

        This presents something of a problem. Not because there aren't solutions - I can think of four or five good ones off hand - but because there's so much inertia. People want better security, as long as it doesn't break their Microsoft Word documents and self-extracting ZIP files that automatically execute device driver installers.

      • by spikedvodka (188722) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:23PM (#20264005)

        User interfaces confuse people about the difference between code and data, and the spread of trojans is the unfortunate result.
        BZZZZzzzz... Wrong... Code is data!

        I think what maybe you meant to say is that User interfaces confuse people about the difference between executable code and non-executable data" I know... nit-picking to a certain degree, but here's the kicker buffer overflows are exploited by using that non-difference. find a way to inject extra "data" that also happens to be executable code fragments, and presto, you're in

        This is also how SQL-injection attacks happen... input code as the data, and presto, the computer listens to the new code.
    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:59AM (#20262219)
      I think this is a good idea, although I would suggest making the teachers and administrators attend the class too. In most schools I've seen, most of the students know more about this stuff than the teachers do, and the teachers are a whole lot more resistant to learning about it, as they lump it in with "all that computer stuff" that they've convinced themselves they're incapable of learning.

      That's nice, but it comes down to a time and money issue - where do you find the time to do this course - before school starts? Teachers aren't paid for those days so either they count as their continuing ed credits or most teachers will say FU. It's not that many don't care but that they simply aren't paid enough to put in even more time.

      You have to find a away to overcome their fear and confusion and concern that they are stupid as well - many older teachers never really used a computer and will need basic help; while the younger ones will be bored by the "this is a mouse; this is a disk.."

      The real issue is what do you do to the kids that break the rules - Mommy and Daddy will come screaming that "YOU (the teacher) should have prevented them from accessing the site, how dare you punish them!"

      Finally, with no child left behind every kid will have a "right" to access technology and be protected - which means their own personal aide to be with them in each class if the are "learning disabled" or a discipline problem that is "developmentally disabled."
      • by Dareth (47614) on Friday August 17, 2007 @03:29PM (#20266365)
        I went with my wife to a "Teacher store" to get some things for her classroom. Yes I am married to a teacher.
        The educational posters clearly showed a tower case with the label - Modem. This explained all the many complaints about broken modems from people using computers with nics and no modem. Somebody has to educate the educators.
    • by JoeCommodore (567479) <> on Friday August 17, 2007 @02:36PM (#20265391) Homepage
      I think it is a good idea, put i t in the same classes as consumer education (you know where they each you stuff about shopping for value, writing checks, etc, all the real-life skills you will need when you are living on your own.) Though I guess it would also be good for younger kids for the cyberbulying thing, (what is it like 3rd or 4th grade when I saw Free to Be You and Me - that probably shows my age.) It goes along the same lines as letter writing too (but for email, (any of 'you kids' learn the parts of a letter in school? address salutation, body, signature, etc.)

    • by Alsee (515537) on Saturday August 18, 2007 @10:58AM (#20276077) Homepage
      Lesson 1:
      Look both ways before crossing the Internet Superhighway.

  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <> on Friday August 17, 2007 @10:59AM (#20261185) Journal

    ...they push teachers to teach children basic skills like reading, writing, mathematics, public speaking, and give them a thorough knowledge of world and American history, logic, and problem solving. I suspect if you teach children how to function properly in society by giving them the necessary tools, then they won't wind up falling into these traps and will be able to make more informed decisions. Just my opinion.

    • by eln (21727) * on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:07AM (#20261313) Homepage
      The Internet is a huge part of "society" these days, and it will only become more so as time passes. Teaching kids how to function properly in a segment of society that they spend an enormous amount of time in seems like a worthy goal.

      We've seen over the past decade that people, for whatever reason, tend to trust websites more than they probably should, and will more readily hand over their social security number to a website than they would to their own mother. This apparently natural tendency needs to be counteracted with education.
      • by Billosaur (927319) * <> on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:17AM (#20261461) Journal

        It's definitely a worthy goal. But if I've seen anything in recent years, it's this increased propensity for school's to teach what I call "touch-feely" curricula, to try and work on children's self-esteem and socialization. I think if we arm children with knowledge, teach them how to solve problems on their own, and let them go at it, they will build personal character and have stronger self-esteem. That's how it worked in my day -- I got my self-esteem through my accomplishments and reaching the goals I set for myself.

        As I've said in another post, I think Technology needs to be right up there with Math, Science, English, etc. as a curriculum of its own. I think we have the opportunity to begin to train young people in the proper use of the Internet, to teach them the basic skills they need to operate in this environment, and give them some idea of the technology behind it. Mind you, that could devolve into a fight over do we teach Microsoft, Unix, Linux, etc., but that's another fight for another day.

        • by Belial6 (794905) on Friday August 17, 2007 @03:40PM (#20266531)
          "But if I've seen anything in recent years, it's this increased propensity for school's to teach what I call "touch-feely" curricula, to try and work on children's self-esteem and socialization."

          No doubt. A couple of weeks ago, I actually heard a five year old tell her mother "Your not my teacher" when her mother told her to climb up to the table.
    • Re:How about... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by EMeta (860558) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:09AM (#20261351)
      Which is all good and lovely, except there are some problems kids can get themselves into before all this education is done. You teach a child to look both ways before crossing the street because they my encounter cars before they are fully cognizant about the particular biology and physics that would make a child-car collision unfortunate. Similarly with many other things. Certainly, for said program to be effective it should be given at latest in middle school, but elementary instruction would be far more effective. I don't expect a 10 year old to deduce the problems of opening attachments from spammers. I don' think that means they should be doomed to trial and error.
      • by Billosaur (927319) * <> on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:23AM (#20261573) Journal

        Of course teaching a Technology curriculum, like anything, is going to have to begin at the beginning. There are kids in nursery school learning how to operate PCs/Macs, and that's where it has to begin. By the time kids get to grade school, they should be well-founded in using a computer -- then the next step would be to teach them Internet access. Of course grade schoolers aren't going to get into the esoterica of web surfing, but they should be taught how to get to useful resources. I wouldn't see kids learning about background technologies until high school, where maybe their interest in technology can be cultivated. Everybody cries about the shortage of skilled IT workers; here's the opportunity to start building them in high school.

      • by IANAAC (692242) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:40AM (#20261867)

        You teach a child to look both ways before crossing the street because they my encounter cars before they are fully cognizant about the particular biology and physics that would make a child-car collision unfortunate. Similarly with many other things.

        I don't know about you, but I don't rely on the school system to teach my kid how and when to cross the street. Similarly, I don't rely on the school system to teach them to be careful on the internet (or any other social-related thing, for that matter). That's why the PC is in the family room, for all to see.

    • by T_ConX (783573) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:37AM (#20261813)
      '...teach children basic skills like reading, writing...'

      I second the motion. Judging from what I've seen kids right, I can only come to the conclusion that a majority of them don't know how to spell even the simplist of words.

      Forget about the their/there/they're confusion. It's getting so bad, that I have to sometimes sound out the mish-mash of syllables they've put together in order to understand what word they intended to write.

      Invyrowmentill. I swear to Cthulhu, I once saw that! The English language is DOOMED!!!
  • Relative risk (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nasor (690345) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:02AM (#20261229)
    I suspect that a child is vastly more likely to be hurt or killed traveling to a real-world library to get books for their homework than they are to run into any sort of "danger" online.
    • The tendency of the Slashdot community to automatically ensure anything containing the words "children" and "safety" is a "but won't somebody think of the children?" situation is starting to piss me off. While there ARE risks involved (a friend of a friend lost her virginity at 16 to a 42-year-old man who has a record of such things... but he seemed only a few years older than she was on MySpace), the real problem is that people are operating complicated and expensive technology with little to no idea of how to do so properly. In my more despairing moments I figure that computers need to have some sort of certification/authentication system where anybody who hasn't passed a certification test is unable to gain admin/root permissions on an Internet-connected machine. (Yes, I realize this wouldn't work, and would have many problems even if it was feasible to implement. The point remains though; those who are not educated about safe computer usage cause all kinds of trouble for everybody else.) The problem is, people have a distict tendency to treat computers in one or more of a few extremely stupid ways:
      "The computer (or occasionally the program) is smarter than I am about this, shouldn't it have realized the file was dangerous?" Computers aren't smart, they are just machines that do what they are made to do: run programs.
      "Somebody sent me a dangerous file? Don't be silly, why would anybody bother to do that?" Malware is big business these days, and they need huge botnets to effective flood spam and such. Every computer they can infect is worth something, and that's leaving aside those who do it just to see if they can. They aren't really sending it to you in particular anyhow; they're sending it to everybody on a list of people who sent somebody an online greeting card or some such crock.
      "I have Norton Antivirus (or other security program) installed, so I'm safe." Nope. Security software at best only protects against established and known issues, and often fails even at that. New malware, outdated definitions, poorly implemented or configured scanning engine... people need to know that antivirus programs aren't shields of invulnerability.
      "It doesn't matter if my computer gets some adware, it's not a real problem." Even pure adware (no spying, redirecting or URLs, changing files, sending emails, or anything like that) slows your computer down and wastes a considerable amount of your time. Other forms of malware are typically much worse; they will send spam emails, try and take over other people's computers, be used to attack remote networks (denial of service) or possibly to flood your own network (many worms do this, intentionally or otherwise), watch everything you do and tell somebody every password/credit card number/email message/document you enter or read, and/or possibly even use your computer as storage for illegal software, kiddie porn, or similar things you don't want on your machine.
      "I downloaded this from a website that said it was safe, so it shouldn't cause any problems." People can put any damn thing they want on their website, and there's no guarantee it's true. At the very least get a third-party opinion. In fact, extend this policy to any unverified claim on a web site; there is a lot of false info out there. Don't believe it just because somebody typed it out and put it online!

      Consider random things like the infamous ILoveYou worm, which caused all kinds of trouble... all because users were too damn stupid to know better than to open such attachments. It wasn't hard to figure out, even if you had known file extensions hidden, that it was NOT a greeting card (IIRC, it was originally intended as a Valentine's Day thing, which - given that by the first time I read about it in the news, summer vacation had already started - should give one an idea of how long it took people to wise up to it).

      While I am in no way confident it will be implemented correctly, I think this idea in general is a very good one. The types of things taught in computer classes in our public schools w
  • Almost a good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kranfer (620510) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:02AM (#20261231) Homepage Journal
    While I do understand the need for teaching our nation's children about safety, I am wondering if this should fall upon the parents to educate their children about what is on the internet and to keep their children away from sites that can be harmful. I do not think I would want my tax dollars to be spent to teach little johnny or susan about how bad people are on the internet... teaching them the proper way to do research is one thing, but security and safety is another that I don't think the education system should be involved in per se... maybe a little but not a whole hell of a lot.
  • by vigmeister (1112659) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:06AM (#20261295)
    to ensure that restrictions imposed (like always tell your REAL age to websites when they ask you if you are 13) don't spike curiosity in the kids to do things they otherwise wouldn't. How about parents make the rules (if they know how to) or they buy software to protect their kids in addition to some kind of summer camp run by private companies or by NPOs. I fear that these teachers will be paid $24000 p.a. and predators might end up with these jobs to game the system. Privatized/non-profit sponsored education will help improve the quality of education.

    Captcha - 'counsels'

  • by forsetti (158019) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:06AM (#20261301)
    Wow -- my kids also come into contact with School Buses, Sidewalks, and Cafeterias during the normal course of school. They better start teach safety courses for those too!!!!
  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:07AM (#20261309) Homepage
    Kids are already taught not to take candy from strangers. Do we really need to tell them not to take sex from "sugardaddy69"? Isn't the second statement implied by the first?
    • by OrangeTide (124937) on Friday August 17, 2007 @02:00PM (#20264709) Homepage Journal
      Kids often don't make the connection between one sort of advice and another sort of advice.

      I'd be happy to see a simple pamphlet handed out to kids, and read over during their "health" / "sex ed" class. Could make it an entire chapter in that class, and cover everything from pervs to thieves. For those who op out of sex ed, oh well, I guess you will have to have your parents teach you about the internet.
  • by morari (1080535) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:07AM (#20261311) Journal
    Like online predators and cyber-bullies! We definitely need to protect the children from online rape and cyber playground fights!
  • by os_evaluator (1117225) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:08AM (#20261331) Journal
    My school taught me "Online Safety", I think it was required. The teacher was the PE teacher, and we watched a couple of movies where kids were raped by 40 year old men that they've been talking to online and decided to meet up with. Nothing about protecting your identity or keeping from identity theft. For crying out loud the teacher had a Myspace account!
  • Yay (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kahei (466208) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:09AM (#20261353) Homepage

    there is still no formal education on how to stay safe, secure and ethical online,

    Yay, sanity prevails! At least, as of this instant.

    The trouble is, teaching maths, grammar and history to kids whose career goal is to be a supermodel is inherently hard. Worthwhile, but difficult and even expensive. On the other hand, teaching them 'how to stay safe, secure and ethical online' is easy. Pointless, but easy and free-as-in-beer. If you're running a school or formulating an education policy, you're going to be tempted.

    Luckily, immigration policies and economic conditions are generally still such that educated people (educated in regions where the career goal is to get an education and move to the West) continue to immigrate. Yay again!

  • by cerelib (903469) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:10AM (#20261377)
    It seems like this should be easy enough for parents to teach. It's just a shame that we can't trust parents to teach their children anything these days.
    • by EMeta (860558) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:31AM (#20261697)
      These days? The requirements to enter into parenthood have changed little in recent years (In fact, I could argue it's gotten significantly easier not to). Likewise the education imparted by parents retains a similar normal distribution. Accounts of the new disrespect for adults are rather consistent across many centuries. Part of the idea of the public education system is to try to divorce children from the limitations of their parents. And it would certainly be a difficult argument to make that the current generation of parents is up to date on technological understanding.
      • by cerelib (903469) on Friday August 17, 2007 @09:36PM (#20271031)

        Part of the idea of the public education system is to try to divorce children from the limitations of their parents.

        That is exactly the problem. Judging by the state of our public education system, I don't see any possible argument that this approach is working. A child's learning process needs participation from the parents to succeed. No system is perfect, but there should be consequences for parents who refuse to take an active role in their child's education.
    • by ChePibe (882378) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:45PM (#20263237)
      The state has taken over for the parents in so many ways that parents are scarcely allowed to teach their children.

      Some kids never learn about the birds and the bees and basic responsibility from their folks - so now, all kids must spend countless hours of their education learning not to sleep around or they'll get sick and to use birth control or they'll have kids. So now, the teachers unions have made themselves the gateway of sexual knowledge. The schools have picked it up, so why should the parents have to keep teaching it?

      My mother has been an elementary school teacher for her entire professional life. As she's moved from school to school, the only difference she has ever seen in final outcomes of students learning is the involvement of parents. Not funding. Not fancy new teaching styles. Not even necessarily the number of students per child. You could tell how well a class would do by the number of parents that showed up at orientation and at other meetings.

      She spent a few years at an elementary school in one of the poorest areas of our hometown. It was almost entirely black, but race (unsurprisngly) played absolutely no role in achievement. The only real marker was parental involvement. If a child came to orientation with two parents or an obviously responsible single parent or grandparent, the child would do well. If the child did not show up at all, odds were that the 22 year old mother of an 8 year old child would show up and demand to know why her "baby" was not going to be passing on to the next grade. On multiple occasions, she even heard parents advise their children that they "didn't need to listen to no white lady" anyways - there was no need to maintain discipline or order in the classroom because the teacher was white. After finding out that little junior was failing, some went so far as to demand their child be switched to a black teacher, a demand the school, to its credit, denied.

      The schools and the teachers unions running them seem determined to take over all previously parental roles - to become the teachers of all morality and to form kids in their very likeness. Schools should give kids the skills they need to succeed in the real world and prepare them to be good citizens. Schools need to spend a lot less time on "so and so has two mommies" and "guidance" counselling, teaching children to feel good about themselves without pesky little things like acheivement getting in the way, and spend a whole hell of a lot more time actually TEACHING rather than coddling children.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:18AM (#20261495) Homepage
    ...but we need more than that.

    Here's what I think we should push for:

    Have all convicted spammers, malware authors and other "cyber criminals" engage in mandatory community service educating the public about internet safety. Have them tour schools, businesses and public libraries giving presentations everywhere. They need to tell the public how they collect their information, who they collect it from, how it is used, outline the deceptive practices that are used when they victimize people and so on and so forth.

    I try to teach people about where they are exposing themselves and what they shouldn't do as much as I can. Some listen; some don't. But the word needs to be out there because most of the sheep on the internet are simply wandering idiots waiting for abuse. Something would be better than nothing and waiting for Microsoft's patches and hoping that users will apply them just isn't enough.
  • "and ethical" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:18AM (#20261497) Homepage Journal

    The proposal says "and ethical" which I take to mean indoctrinating a willingness to prop up ancient and unfair art-patron business models rather than nourish a new generation of self-referential art and culture.

    • by goldspider (445116) <> on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:58AM (#20262207) Homepage
      I don't see what the beef is with teaching kids about copyright laws as they are today. Perhaps it would be an appropriate time to discuss the matter and introduce various points of view.

      But I think the days of "I didn't know it was illegal to share my entire music collection with the world" should be long gone by now. Chances are they're still going to do it, but they should at least know the legal potential of doing so.
      • Re:"and ethical" (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Speare (84249) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:20PM (#20262627) Homepage Journal

        I don't see what the beef is with teaching kids about copyright laws as they are today. Perhaps it would be an appropriate time to discuss the matter and introduce various points of view.

        If that was the curriculum, I'd be overjoyed. But (1) the teachers don't know much about this field, so they're talking off some handy curricula circulars from the district, and (2) those curricula circulars are written by, and the legislative priorities are set by lobbyists and corporate interests. Do you think they'll include that bit about "discuss" and "various points of view"? It is like getting , oh, I don't know... RIAA drafting the Iraqi constitution's intellectual property protections [].

    • by deniable (76198) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:14PM (#20262493)
      My first thought was doing your own homework and not downloading existing papers. Copy and paste makes plagiarism really easy.
    • Re:"and ethical" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pla (258480) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:38PM (#20263095) Journal
      The proposal says "and ethical" which I take to mean indoctrinating a willingness to prop up ancient and unfair art-patron business models

      Schools exist for two purposes only (and the second only as a side-effect out of necessity to support the first): Indoctrination as good little corporate slaves, and socialized babysitting.

      When we used to ask our math teachers "when will I ever use this", the could accurately have answered "Your future masters keep complaining that you little bastards can't make change or accurately count inventory. So stop trying to think for yourself, suck it up, and do what we say."

      "Sally gives you a $10 bill to pay for 20 oranges at $1.85/lb, with four oranges to the pound. The register says to give her 75 cents change - How many quarters should you give Sally?"
  • Outsourcing (Score:3, Funny)

    by pzs (857406) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:21AM (#20261535)
    Since we seem to be outsourcing our parenting into schools, why don't we go one step further and outsource teaching to India? Kids could dial a call-centre every day to get their new dose of government mandated knowledge for that day. This would save a ton of money we could then spend on invading random countries.

    The only problem with this approach is that people in India would be too sensible to teach creationism as science.

  • by xednieht (1117791) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:24AM (#20261579) Homepage
    I'm not sure if schools are the place to learn these lessons, just like schools are not to learn about real life. Who's version of it are they going to teach? What are the moral, ethical, and responsibility parameters for such a curriculum? Is this another one size fits all approach? How much more will it cost to create a curriculum and support structure for something that parents are responsible for?

    Don't know if anyone has notices but public schools rank pretty poorly in teaching the basics such as reading, writing, and rithmetic. Perhaps it would be better to let schools focus on improving the basics, and encourage parents to step up to the plate and take responsibility for their brats.
  • by PaulNutz (1092681) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:27AM (#20261643)
    Why is the web special? I don't think I was even given the option of formal education for protection/safety in the so called "real world"?
  • Why don't they just teach the kids to not go online, and hope for the best, instead of teaching them to do it in a safe manner? That seems to have worked out wonderfully when applied elsewhere.
  • by faloi (738831) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:31AM (#20261701)
    I knew I recognized them...

    That's the surprising new recommendation from the National School Boards Association -- a not-for-profit organization representing 95,000 school board members -- in a new study funded by Microsoft, News Corporation, and Verizon. >

    So, basically, this article is saying that a group that's received funding for studies from big name technology companies has caused another group, with hardy approval from big name technology companies, to support teaching kids about on-line safety. Perhaps the part they're leaving out involves something about using on the best Genuine Microsoft OS and Symantec security software is the best bet...
  • Prudence (Score:2, Insightful)

    by morkfard (601963) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:32AM (#20261717)
    Teaching students about online security should be done at a very fundamental level. Unless the student is very interested in that topic, a basic understanding is all that is necessary to prevent malicious attacks. Take a cue from the workplace, and provide an security workshop or online training sessions for the student to take when he or she starts each school year. It is not necessary to mandate coursework in this area; this would take valuable time away from more crucial learning, such as math, science, English, etc. Better IT policies should be implemented and enforced by school boards. Use of Internet security and privacy protection software should be in place, if it is not already.
  • by pedramnavid (1069694) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:36AM (#20261793)
    Looks like someone thought of the children!!
  • by LoudMusic (199347) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:38AM (#20261831)
    Sure, digital security is important. But how about teaching kids how to buy a car or house? How to not get into tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debit? How to get a job? How to act like a person living in a modern society and not be a drain on your peers?

    They're skipping the first step - interaction in the real world. Then worry about that new fangled internet thing.
  • by antdude (79039) on Friday August 17, 2007 @11:45AM (#20261963) Homepage Journal
    Do schools still have computer classes these days? I know back in my days, we did (late 80s with mostly Apple 2s). I had an awesome teacher (I wonder where they are now) who knew computers and that is how I got into computers. These teachers (yes, rare) could teach online safety.
    • by Dareth (47614) on Friday August 17, 2007 @03:23PM (#20266257)
      Teaching computers in our local school system seems to be a "lab job" that does not fall under general education. There was a program at the local University that said it was looking into helping professionals move into teaching.

      I am a System Admin who always wondered if teaching would be enjoyable. I am also married to a teacher, so the sync in schedules would be nice as well. I checked into the program. I am qualified to teach geology/earth science, math, and biology based upon my college credits but there is no classification for teaching computers or technology.

      There seems to be an awful large amount of money being spent on computers and technology for it not to be a part of the standard curriculum with a qualified teacher for the subject.

    • by antdude (79039) on Friday August 17, 2007 @03:31PM (#20266391) Homepage Journal
      I forgot to mention that this was back in my elementary and junior high/middle school days.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:04PM (#20262347)
    In theory, this sounds nice. Kids getting taught that they should NOT be clickmonkeys, that it's NOT ok to click every friggin' thing sent to them, that they should NOT hand out their private information to everyone, actually, that they should probably refrain from giving anything private to anyone (and yes, that includes the government). That it's not a good idea to meet someone in person that you meet online without having a friend nearby that could call the cops in case that 15 year old loverboy is a 51 year old pedophile in reality.

    In reality, I envision this: Some teacher who doesn't get enough hours gets dumped into this class. He doesn't know jack about online services or online reality, instead he gets a book, sponsored by the RIAA, entitled "how to avoid bootlegs and why P2P is teh Evil". Then we spend the next 50 hours reading from the book, while the kids surf the 'net and chat with their 15 year old loverboys...
  • by et764 (837202) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:02PM (#20263599)
    This seems like a fairly good idea, if it could be integrated with the computer classes and such that most students already take. When I was in school, we had to sign some paper saying we wouldn't do naughty things in order to use the school's internet service. This could be an extension of that same idea.

    To me, it seems like educating people is the best way to stop the spread of computer viruses and other malware. While some of these things spread through security flaws in operating systems, I would guess the majority are spread through people clicking things like "FREE PONIEZ" links. How many of us slashdotters have antivirus or other anti-malware software on our computers? I've found that in many cases, you can achieve an acceptable level of safety more effectively just by knowing what you're doing, rather than having all this extra stuff running in the background to protect you. The best way to protect people isn't through technological solutions, but through education, so this seems like the right approach, if done well.
  • by DisKurzion (662299) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:25PM (#20264029)
    Quite simply, I think what a major problem with our current grade/mid/high school education is that they don't take "computer education" seriously.

    When I was in elementary school, the net didn't really kick off yet. So we learned to type, play games, etc. I approve of that. At the elementary level, they need to learn the basics of using a computer.

    But the school's problem is that they never took the next step beyond "elementary." Even when they taught new programs (Like Powerpoint, or Frontpage ffs) and eventually exploring the internet, they taught it at such a low level that even a 3rd grader could understand it.

    They need to not just understand how to use a computer and the applications, they need to know what all us geeks know about personal PC use. That's our biggest problem with computers today. There was no formal education for maintaining a computer.

    Technology is our future. Nobody can deny that. Almost every college student today has some form of desktop or laptop. Lots of them still have no clue what happens "in the magic box." Our tech support problems are only going to get exponentially worse until something is done to educate the user base. (Luckily, the largest segment of completely uneducated users will likely die off within 30 years).

    I'm in favor of an "computer license." You are not permitted to own a computer until you can:
    A: Identify the basic parts (How many people still call the box "the hard drive?")
    B: Troubleshoot problems (My internet isn't working!!)
    C: Understand the difference between Malware, Freeware, Shareware, and Open Source.
    D: Prove you have common sense about online security.

    I volunteer to start and run the program. Consider this an open application to all you school districts out there. :P
  • by bidule (173941) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:48PM (#20264493) Homepage

    With the current administration, I am sure the proposed mechanism will be "No internet is safe internet".

    Well, someone had to say it.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday August 17, 2007 @02:07PM (#20264853) Journal

    Intresting series, but something seems to be missing. Which is this. We are shown only one side. While it seems clear that a great many men want to have sex with underage persons, what you do NOT see is underage persons wanting to have sex with these men.

    Could perverted justice be the sole supplier of online personas wanting to talk dirty with old men and even meet them in person?

    Think of it like this, a police operation pre-tending to sell drugs PROVES the existence of people wanting to buy drugs. It does NOT prove the existence of drug sellers.

    So how real is the problem? Perhaps the reason that dateline manages to capture so many men with their attempts is that they are fishing in a big pool of hungry men with no competition? If there were lots of underaged persons willing to do these kinds of meetings for real, then dateline would have a far harder time to find people willing to walk into their trap?

    This is just speculation based on the known principles of supply and demand. If supply is limited then a small release of that supply will show a high demand EVEN if total demand ain't that high. Example, 1 million dollar race cars selling like hotcakes. NOT because 1 million dollars car are in that high demand generally, but because the supply is extremely limited.

    I am left to wonder what the real extent of the problem is.

One picture is worth 128K words.