Educational CyberPlayGround ®

Teach Non Fear Based Internet Curriculum

Non-Fear-Based Guidance Internet Curriculum

How can we help young people gain the knowledge, decision-making skills, and motivation to make safe and responsible choices when they are using the Internet.

The FTCs safety publication: Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online is an excellent guide for parents with practical tips to help kids navigate the online world.
FREE Copies can be ordered in bulk at and is also available in Spanish.

Problem - "Follow the Money" "Fear sells, and it helps people make money."
Groups go to Congress to get laws passed to get funding, then they produce a product that is not founded on correct research.

Prevent Funding to Spread Internet Fear
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. Menendez sponsos the School and Family Education about the Internet Act, which would make Internet safety
information part of school curricula.

This should be done through a multidisciplinary collaboration that includes law enforcement, risk prevention professionals, and schools. And we need universal well-designed, non-fear-based digital media safety and literacy instruction.

What We Know - What Research Shows
These are generally young people who are already at risk on the Real World they have psychosocial concerns, difficulties with parents engage in risk behavior on and off-line. The areas of risk include risk sexual and personal relationship behavior (sexting, arranging for sexual hook-ups, being exploited or engaging in exploitation, engaging in sexual prostitution, trafficking in porn, abusive partners, unsafe online dating), electronic aggression (cyberbullying), posting threatening material online, engaging in unsafe online communities that support self-harm like anorexia and self-cutting, and engaging in dangerous online communities like hate groups and gangs - underlying issues of concern include addictive access, unsafe posting of material, and unsafe interactions with others.
The teens that present the greatest concern are those who engage in continued excessive participation in darkside sites and activities. The teens who are most at risk are likely outcasts in the school environment and have come from dysfunctional families where they have been victims of sexual and/or physical abuse.

Fear Based Curriculum

The publicity that is all about fear is largely inaccurate!!

Focusing on the very sad stories are against the recommendations for reporting on suicide by the nations leading authorities on suicide prevention and could cause other students to contemplate suicide.

"Dramatizing the impact of suicide through descriptions and pictures of grieving relatives, teachers or classmates or community expressions of grief may encourage potential victims to see suicide as a way of getting attention or as a form of retaliation against others."

Developmentally appropriate prevention strategies are needed that require different approaches from the current fear based prevention messages.

  • A program to address youth risk online that is coordinated by DOJ (OJJDP and ICAC), DOE (Safe Schools and Ed Tech), and HHS (SAMHSA and CDC).
  • Block grants to the states to organize state level task forces ­ which will include juvenile justice, Internet crime, safe schools, ed tech, and mental heath.
  • Funding to CDC to develop a better risk assessment tool and to coordinate research initiatives.
  • Discretionary grant funding to agencies, education agencies, and organizations to develop and implement risk prevention and intervention initiatives, including online initiatives, to address the concerns of the young people who are at greater risk online.
  • Specific provisions in the legislation to ensure that projects have a reasonable likelihood of success, with ongoing evaluation. Also a mechanism to encourage ongoing interactions between grantees so they can learn from each other¹s successes or failures. Preferably designating Crimes Against Children Research Center as the technical advisory group ­ because they are already doing evaluations about effectiveness in this area and they do good research. Note: this is very important because there are currently no evidence - based best practices in this area. So we need to ensure accountability.
  • And the presentation of this program needs to be framed in the reality that the majority of young people are generally making good choices online and effectively responding to the negative incidents that do occur. This program is necessary because the research has demonstrated that some young people are at higher risk.

School Districts "Internet safety" a two-part Approach

Universal digital media safety and literacy education - what information will you provide to all students about these issues. The planning for this MUST include ed tech personnel, librarians, health educators, counselors,
and school resource officers. I will have much more information on this in tomorrow's email.
Targeted risk prevention for those young people who are at greater risk - especially addressing the issues of concern that while they may be occurring off-campus are impacting the schools. This includes all of the above list of more significant concerns.
These concerns are grounded in mental health concerns - or victimization could lead to mental health concerns. Sometimes the issues reach the level of criminal concerns. Many times there is an impact at schools.
So school districts MUST pursue collaboration to address these concerns with local law enforcement and mental health. And if you have any voice at the state level, this kind of collaboration also needs to occur at that level.

The Crimes Against Children Research Center wrote this article then received a grant from DOJ to investigate the effectiveness of the ICAC/DOJ funded programs <snip>

Publicity about online predators or sex offenders who use the Internet to meet juvenile victims has raised considerable alarm about the extent that Internet use may be putting children and adolescents at risk for sexual abuse and exploitation. Internet safety education has been a visible part of the response. Sophisticated web and classroom-based curricula have been developed to disseminate materials on Internet safety and educate youth and the public (e.g., Netsmartz, i-SAFE, Web Wise Kids, and iKeepSafe). However, Internet safety education is still in a formative stage. Although there have been a small number of outcome evaluations, they have mostly lacked rigor and provide no evidence that existing programs change youth behavior or reduce risk.
"The publicity about online predators who prey on naive children using trickery and violence is largely inaccurate. Internet sex crimes involving adults and juveniles more often fit a model of statutory rape adult offenders who meet, develop relationships with, and openly seduce underage teenagers -- than a model of forcible sexual assault or pedophilic child molesting. This is a serious problem, but one that requires different approaches from current prevention messages emphasizing parental control and the dangers of divulging personal information. Developmentally appropriate prevention strategies that target youth directly and focus on healthy sexual development and avoiding victimization are needed."

Non-Fear-Based Guidance Internet Curriculum and Correct Research

Internet safety education is for "At Risk Youth" and comprehensive risk prevention programs actually help. The focus should be on funding comprehensive risk prevention initiatives to address youth risk online.

Effective and Accurate Training

Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
Focusing on the concerns of a minority of young people who are at greater risk online since 1995. Testimony to the COPA Commission