This I Believe

Therese - Highland Lakes, New Jersey
Entered on April 23, 2007

I’m all for censorship. I know, not a popular stance. As a library student (a middle-aged one) I hear many people upset about the Child Internet Protection Act, the law requiring filtering of children’s computers as a requirement for funding. It smacks of government control and political censorship, and I’m not for that. But I am for filtering computers in libraries and schools. I’m meek, and affable, and I don’t often argue about it in class, but I think it is a great idea.

I am a children’s librarian in a small suburban town. We have filters in the children’s room (I think) but not on the adult computers. I say “I think” because I installed a popular Web filter, but have been afraid to try it by bringing up an objectionable website. The computers will display a “page cannot be displayed” message now and again, so I’m taking it as proof that the filters work. I also haven’t seen anything that contradicts this. Before we installed filters, I had adults going into the unoccupied children’s room and viewing material that then would pop up when children were on the Internet. Not great. Or by accident, children brought it up themselves. A teenager came to the library and said she was doing a report on the typical Italian teenager. Her school project was to do sufficient research about a country of her choice, and then describe the daily life of a teen living there. The student was at the point that she wanted graphics for the report – photos of Italian teens. She chose that as her search term in Google “photos of Italian Teens”, and surely, she did get graphics. By the time I’d thrown myself between her and the screen, she had brought up links that, had she included in her report, would have been the talk of the teacher’s lounge.

People argue against filters because they think it might cut out legitimate sights.

Try to search for breast cancer, for instance they say, and you won’t be able to. Not true. The filters I use, and other filters out there, allow you to add sites you can always access. Any child needing help on a report in a school or library would have the help of an adult to find these legitimate sites, and get their information.

In our zeal to not censor, I believe the point is being lost. Children need protection from many things today, and violent and sexual images they cannot handle are some of them. Kids should not have to wade through Hustler to get to the Encyclopedia Britannica in the reference section of their library. They should not have to do it on-line either.