Berkman Internet Safety Technical Task Force Take 1

I was going to present for the Berkman Internet Safety Technical Task Force on September 23, but ended up not making it. Long story. I originally was supposed to have about a half hour. The presentation notes I prepared for this are below. Then I was told that my time was cut to 15 minutes, including Q&A. This was fair – that is all they gave the technical folks. I also had had some feedback on my first notes and decided to rewrite. Berkman Take 2 are my new notes.

Effectively Addressing Youth Risk Online:
The Fallacy of Believing it is Possible to Keep
Digi-Teens in Electronically Fenced Play Yards

Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
Presentation to the Berkman Internet Safety Technical Task Force
September 23, 2008

“When we fall into the trap of believing or, more accurately, hoping that technology will solve all of our problems, we are actually abdicating the high touch of personal responsibility. … In our minds at least, technology is always on the verge of liberating us from personal discipline and responsibility. Only it never does and never will. The more technology around us, the more the need for human touch.”1

“[This report, Youth Pornography and the Internet] will disappoint those who expect a technological “quick fix” to the challenge of pornography on the Internet. … It will disappoint parents, school officials, and librarians who seek surrogates to fulfill the responsibilities of training and supervision needed to truly protect children from inappropriate sexual materials on the Internet.2

Positive Engagement and Education

The best way to ensure that young people make safe and responsible choices online is through positively engaged parenting and effective education.

  • When children are young, it is necessary ~ and possible ~ to keep them in protected places.
  • But as young people grow they must know how to independently make safe and responsible choices online ~ and will not stay in adult-created protected places.
  • Teens and tweens are at far greater risk online than children, because they are becoming independent and exploring who they are online.
  • The greatest risks to young people online are not from online strangers. The greatest risks are from hurtful peers and family or acquaintance abusers.
  • The teens who are at greatest risk online are the ones who are at greatest risk in the real world.
  • No technology “quick fix” can substitute for an engaged parent or address the concerns presented by “at risk” teens online.

The Trap of Believing in Technology “Quick Fixes.”

A technology “quick fix” is an ineffective technology solution that seeks to control the intentional behavior of teens online because of concerns related to safety or responsible use.

  • Technology “quick fixes” do not work because there are NO technologies that adults can use to effectively keep teens in “electronically fenced play yards.”
  • “Quick fixes” also will not fix the human behavior problem and are likely to lead to false security that could make the human behavior problem worse.
  • It is important to distinguish “quick fixes” from effective technology protection solutions that are designed to protect against harm coming from the outside or accidental behavior.
  • Protect against “malware.”
  • Create safer places for children online.
  • Provide users of social networking sites the ability to control who has access to their information and can communicate.
  • Some technologies function as effective protection and “quick fixes,” depending on how they are used.
  • Filtering can provide effective protection for children ~ but will not restrict teens.
  • Digital identification will be helpful for adults engaged in electronic commerce ~ but will never be able to effectively control tween or teen access to social networking sites.

Youth Risk Online ~ Range of Risk

Savvy teens have effective knowledge, skills, and values to independently make good choices. Naïve teens lack sufficient knowledge and skills and may make mistakes ~ but can become savvy with education and experience. Vulnerable teens are facing temporary emotional challenges ~ but still have a level of stability that can support making good choices. “At Risk” teens are those who are significantly “at risk” in other areas of life.

  • The greater the degree of risk, the greater the likelihood the teen will be …
  • Searching for acceptance and attention online.
  • Vulnerable to manipulation.
  • Emotionally upset and thus less likely to make good choices.
  • Less attentive to Internet safety messages.
  • Less resilient in getting out of a difficult situation.
  • Less able or willing to rely on parents for assistance.
  • Less likely to report an online dangerous situation to an adult because this will reveal evidence of their own unsafe choices.

Influences on Online Behavior
These are other influences on online development.

  • Didn’t Think. Children do not have the cognitive capacity to independently make good choices online. Teens’ frontal lobes, which support effective decision-making, are under development. They are biologically compelled to want to be in charge of their own decisions because this is the only way they can learn to make good decisions.
  • You Can’t See Me ~ I Can’t See You. The perception of invisibility and lack of tangible feedback of online activities can lead to online disinhibition.
  • Who Am I and Am I Hot? Teens are exploring their identity and emerging sexuality online, which can lead to posting of inappropriate materials or engaging in unsafe activities.
  • How Far Can I Go? All teens engage in risk taking, some more than others, and they are taking risks online.
  • Everybody Does It. Online social norms of teens and adults can support unsafe or irresponsible behavior ~ or safe and responsible behavior.
  • Doing What I Say. Many companies, organizations, and individuals are using sophisticated techniques to influence teens online.

Applying this Insight

  • Addressing the concerns of the more vulnerable and “at risk” teens will require integrating emerging research insight regarding youth risk online into risk prevention approaches that incorporate research-based best practices found to be effective in addressing real life risk.
  • The focus must be on addressing the risk factors and enhancing protective factors.
  • We can help naïve teens make fewer mistakes through more effective education.
  • Savvy teens are the resource we need to foster. These teens can effectively educate peers and siblings. They are key to establishing social norms that support safe and responsible behavior. They are in the best position to detect when other teens are at risk and can be encouraged to report.
  • Savvy and well-meaning adults can also use sophisticated influence techniques to influence safe and responsible online behavior!

What is Techno-Panic? A heightened level of concern about the use of contemporary technologies by young people that is disproportionate to the empirical data on the degree of risk.

  • There are risks to young people online ~ just as there are risks to young people in the real world.
  • Techno-panic promoters include some media, politicians, Internet safety and public advocacy groups, and companies. They often have other motives.
  • You can recognize the techno-panic promoters by their common message: “The Internet is dangerous.”

Underlying Factors of Techno-Panic

Digital Divide

The digital natives, are speeding down the Information Superhighway with their accelerators fully engaged, but without sufficient braking power, while most digital immigrants are struggling to get out of first gear. Deal with it. Most adults will never feel as comfortable with these technologies as youth, but can learn enough to play an important role.

The Internet Wants to be Free

Internet pioneers took the attitude that the Internet should be like the Wild west ~ anarchy, no rules, no rule enforcers, absolutely no censorship. Online disinhibition has led to a strong social norm in some communities that everyone should have the right to post and do whatever they want online without regard for the harm it might cause to another. The lack of social norms allows some to harm others. Appropriate social norms for cyberspace will largely be controlled through contract ~ terms of use agreements, which requires that industry abide by appropriate social norms, especially related to the use of sites to harm others.

20-Something CEOs

Never before in society have we had CEOs of major companies who are still in their 20’s. 20-something CEOs of Internet companies: Do not have the wisdom that comes from age and experience. Often believe the Internet wants to be free. Have too often failed to implement effective protections and to rapidly respond to concerns. Develop industry standards and expectations for protection features necessary to protect youth to assist new Internet companies in developing their approach. Must also empower teens to make good choices and to be peer leaders.

Change from an Authoritarian Society to a Networked Society

The underlying structure of our society is changing from authoritarian to networked. Some adults are very embedded in the authoritarian structure ~ especially those in law enforcement and other positions of leadership. Leaders must understand the social structure is changing and there is nothing they can do to prevent this. The invention of the printing press led to the scientific revolution, reformation, rise of the middle class, and democracy. Leaders should spend some time with 20-something CEOs to gain a better understanding of the emerging social structure.

What is the Actual Risk?
There is an unconscionable misrepresentation of the degree of actual risk to young people online!
It is ESSENTIAL that we address youth risk online in a manner that is grounded in research-based understanding of the actual risk!

Youth Victims
In a study reporting 2000 data, the Crimes Against Children Research Center reported that there were approximately 1,000 arrests in In Internet sex crimes involving identified youth victims.3 In half of those cases, the offender used the Internet to initiate a relationship with the victim. In the other half, the offender was a family member or acquaintance of the victim. This means that the “online stranger danger” warnings are inaccurate. In 2000, there were 65,000 arrests for sex crimes against children.

Going out on a limb, I would predict an increase in online stranger predation cases, but an actual decrease when viewed in the context of the number of teens active online. I would predict a significant increase in the number of family/acquaintance abusers who are now using technologies to groom and control, as well as those creating and disseminating child pornography of their victims. The issue is sexual abuse!

Online Sexual Solicitation
Oft-quoted data that 1 in 7 young people are sexually solicited online leaves out critically important findings.4 The report asked about unwanted sexual related communications. Most of these communications came from other teens. 4 of 5 teens are sexually harassed in high school.5 Only 33% of these solicitations were distressing to the recipient. 16% of the solicitations were from females; 49% of whom were under 18. Only 9% of the solicitations were from people over the age of 25; 92% male, the others gender unknown. The teens demonstrated effective skills in responding. Although only 21% told an adult, 69% of those who did not report to anyone, did not do so because it not serious enough. The issue is sexual harassment and the oversexualization of youth by the entertainment media and advertising.

Online Predators
“It has been estimated that, at any given time, 50,000 predators are on the Internet prowling for children,” U.S. Attorney General Gonzales in a press conference.6 “It is estimated that, at any given moment, 50,000 predators are prowling for children online, many of whom are lurking within social networks. Representative Upton in the House Congressional Record: July 26, 2006 in support of the Deleting Online Predators Act.7 Gonzales apparently got his data from Dateline’s To Catch a Predator.8 Dateline said they got this figure from a FBI authority ~ who has denied providing this figure.9 Dateline created this figure out of “thin air.” The issue is the accuracy of the data.

Attorney General Data or Lack Thereof
While the AGs have been focusing on social networking concerns for three years, it appears that none of the AG offices who were active in the agreement with MySpace have any online sexual predator incident data for their state. I requested such data on 9/9/08. In response to my request, one assistant AG told me they had no data but suggested that I look at This is an anonymous fear-mongering site that aggregates news reports related to problems on MySpace. This is not quality incident data.

To the best of my ability to determine, based on press reports, law enforcement officers are generally setting up predator stings in chat rooms, not on social networking sites.10

Why the focus on sexual predation by adult strangers on social networking sites when there appears to be no data validating the degree of the dangers?

The Real Data on Youth Risk
“Youth with histories of sexual or physical abuse, and other troubled youth, may be particularly vulnerable. Youth Internet users with histories of offline sexual or physical abuse appear to be considerably more likely to receive online aggressive sexual solicitations.”11

“The psychosocial picture of youth involved in Internet harassment and unwanted sexual solicitation is concerning, … (i)n short these youth are facing a multitude of personal challenges that negatively impact healthy youth development.”12

Youth risk online must be addressed as youth risk!

Further Insight
In repeated studies, the vast majority of teens report healthy responses to negative online incidents and report that they are not distressed by these incidents.13
In a study comparing parent and teen perceptions of dangers, parents reported a higher level of concern than teens.14

But the higher level of concern did not lead to greater parent attention to their child’s online activities.
Teens whose parents are both actively and positively involved in their children’s online activities demonstrate the lowest levels of risky behavior.15

The majority of cyber offenses involving children, adolescents and young adults are perpetrated by peers of approximately the same age or grade level.16

Techno-Panic and Social Networking Sites
Fear-mongering about social networking is especially damaging because this is the teen cyber-environment of choice. The primary focus of the AGs appears to be directed at finding ways to block young people from using social networking sites or encourage parents not to allow their children to use these sites. This is not wise.

  • If teens use the protection features and are careful about what they post and who they link to, their use of social networking sites can be very safe.
  • Used with care, social networking sites are far safer than anonymous chat rooms, chat rooms on gaming sites, public instant messaging, and virtual worlds.
  • As the social networking sites increase their protection features, it appears this leads parents of tweens to think the sites are safe ~ and, used with care, they are.

The Harm Caused by Techno-Panic

Harm to Young People Facing Concerns
The current “techno-panic” is placing teens at greater risk. It is significantly interfering with positively engaged parenting and effective education. When parents are fearful they do not engage positively. This is leading to a lack of trust between parents and teens. Many teens appear to be convinced that adults simply do not understand their online world.17

Teens will make mistakes online and could be at risk. If they are fearful of talking to an adult they will be at greater risk. When teens perceive that adults do not understand and are fearful, they will not report online concerns. They believe that the adult will overreact, blame them, not know what to do, do something that makes matters worse, or cut off their online access. To be cut-off from social networking constitutes “excommunication.” As a result teens may not be reporting online concerns when they really should. This could lead to significant preventable harm.

Harm to the Promotion of 21st Century Learning
In many schools, there is a “lock down” on the use of any interactive technologies for learning. The use of these technologies is essential to prepare young people for their future learning, work, civic responsibilities, and personal lives. The techno-panic has fueled resistance to the adoption of these technologies for learning.

Technology Quick Fixes ~ Learning from History: the Filtering “Quick Fix”
There are many problems grounded in overreliance on this “quick fix.”

  • Teens can easily bypass filters. Search for “bypass Internet filter” or “unblock MySpace.” In most schools today, the filters are only effectively blocking elementary students and adult staff.18
  • Teachers and librarians frequently report concerns of filter ovrblocking.
  • Because of the lack of effective Internet use management practices, schools are routinely blocking access to sites containing very valuable information related to contemporary society and educationally valuable technologies. Schools are currently unable to effectively prepare students for their continuing education, employment, and civil responsibilities in the 21st century.
  • Use of products from some filtering companies by public schools is resulting in blocking that is unconstitutional because of the viewpoint discrimination practices of some filtering companies.19
  • Despite an increase in reliance on filtering, more teens are accidently encountering pornographic material ~ by making mistakes that could be avoided through effective education.20

Digital Identification Questions

How will you accurately identify minors?
Accurate digital identification requires that the Identity Provider be able to rely on a Trusted Authority to provide accurate identity and age information. No Trusted Authority institution currently exists for minors, until they acquire a driver’s license, and would be enormously expensive to establish.

It is unrealistic to expect that schools will fill this role. There are strict legal requirements on schools related to the confidentiality of student records. The custodial status of parents will change. Schools would object to this unfunded mandate that is not in accord with their basic mission. Many students are home-schooled. It would be very easy to “scam” this approach, leading to false security? Who would accept the liability for mistakes?

How can you be sure an adult has custodial authority to approve digital identification?
Minors are not capable of legal consent to a contract. A digital identification is a contract. Thus, digital identification would require custodial approval. It would be impossible for for any Trusted Authority to accurately determine the custodial authority of an adult over a particular minor at any particular time. Again, who would accept the liability for mistakes?

What unintended consequences could lead to greater risk?
The concerns of identity theft would multiply. Actual predators could easily scam the system, especially family/acquaintance predators. Parents might think that since they have “protected” their child they do not have to pay attention to what their child is doing online ~ false security.

What would stop users from entering from another country?
To work effectively, this approach would need to be global. The U.S. does not control the world. If the approach is implemented in the U.S., there would be nothing to prevent teens from joining social networking sites from foreign portals or creating bypass portals.

What would be the impact of requiring all users to be digitally identified?
(Especially when there is no solid data about the degree of actual danger!) To work effectively, the approach would require that all users be digitally identified. Many users would object. Rumors of hidden agendas would abound. This initiative would be perceived as being grounded in a “Big Brother” hidden agenda to acquire centralized intelligence. Suspicions about who would be behind this hidden agenda would include market profilers and Homeland Security. This could seriously injure the emerging digital identification industry, which could eventually provide excellent benefits for adults in electronic commerce, banking, health services, and government services.

For voluntary approaches, how will you convince teens they are in danger?
No self-respecting teen will voluntarily use a digital identification system to limit his or her ability to freely use the Internet.

Appropriate Technology Solutions
Technology companies and web sites can offer an array of protection features, developed with an understanding of youth development and risk.

It is developmentally appropriate and technically feasible to seek to keep children up to the age of 10 in safer places using technology protections. Parental empowerment technologies are appropriate for children.
These could include filtering. But kid-safe browsers or a way for parents to easily bookmark sites for children are far safer approaches. Most children are not at home alone, but if they are, time monitoring software might be effective.

The age period from 10 to 13 is the most challenging. These young people are generally in middle school and want desperately to be thought of as “older.” Many are joining social networking sites, with the approval of their parents. The more protection features implemented by the sites, the more parents appear to think they are safe for tweens. The “kick them off” approach of finding and removing profiles is not working.
Encourage the establishment of subscription-based versions of social networking sites for pre-teens. This will provide some digital identification because parents will use credit cards. No advertisement and no market profiling. Perhaps the major sites could set up subscription-based services, with enhanced protections, for pre-teens who want to be on the sites with the teens. On these sites provide a full range of protection features including automatic parent notice of friends and postings changes to the site. Give parents the choice of whether their child can add older friends.

Teens are at a developmental stage where they are becoming independent. They have far greater technical expertise than most adults. They can and will successfully resist all efforts by adults to keep them in electronically fenced play-yards.

  • Placing reliance on filtering technologies is a joke.
  • Time monitoring software can prevent access when parents are not present to supervise or late at night. But teens can get access in other places.
  • The use of monitoring technologies can interfere with the development of a relationship based on trust.
  • But can be effectively used as a consequence for misbehavior or if a parent has significant concerns their child is at risk from someone dangerous.
  • User empowerment technologies which provide the ability to prevent anyone other than selected “friends” to view postings and communicate are highly appropriate for teens.
  • While some risk-taking is to be expected, the vast majority of teens have no desire to place themselves in harm’s way or waste time dealing with “online creeps.”
  • They can and will successfully use user empowerment protection features under two key conditions:
  • The protection features are under their control. (Supports their need for independence.)
  • Many of their peers are using the features. (This is using the influence of social norms.)
  • Setting these protections as “default” is very important. Make it more difficult to undo the protections.
  • We can and must focus on peer leadership and appropriate social norms!

Other Protection Approaches to Consider for Teens

  • Eliminate all profile questions that encourage teens to post information that could put them at risk or create the perception that it is appropriate to share intimate information online.
  • Eliminate all advertisements and market research questionnaires, the “personality quizzes,” that encourage sexually risky or harmful behavior or create the perception that it is appropriate to share intimate information online.
  • Make “report abuse” features highly visible. Responses to abuse reports must be very prompt. Send a follow-up message asking user to complete a brief survey on the effectiveness of the site response and asking whether the issue has been effectively resolved. Follow-up if the problem has not been resolved.
  • Do a separate review of images posted by minors. Even if the images do not reach the site’s standards for deletion, send a “we are concerned” warning message to the user suggesting that the image be removed and providing a link to more information about safety. Encouraging teens to take safe actions is a better approach than simply removing the image and creating anger. Track the responses to see how effective this is.
  • Develop creative ways to “reward” users for reporting that someone else is making risky choices or is in danger. This could include “virtual currency,” coupons for free merchandise (ring tones, cell phone game, I-Tune download), or discount coupons ($2 off on a movie ticket). The response messages should provide strong encouragement and thanks for the user’s action. Do not advertise this. Let the news spread. Do a follow-up survey on the effectiveness of this approach.
  • Seek the assistance of teens to address the concerns.
  • Set up a “teen board” that is officially consulting with the site to address youth risk.
  • Set up a teen-run, adult supervised forum where teen users can ask for help from other teens.

Improved Internet Safety Messaging

Fear-based Messages
We know that fear-based, “just say ‘no,’” simplistic rules approaches are ineffective in preventing youth risk. Therefore, it is unwise to apply these approaches to youth risk online. The vast majority of past and many current Internet safety education messages are grounded in approaches that we know are ineffective in preventing youth risk.

Internet safety messages grounded in fear of dangerous online strangers that provide “just say ’no’” simplistic rules warning against normative online behavior that is not inherently risky are not effective!
Communicating with people unknown in the real world and posting pictures is normative online behavior that is not is not inherently risky. However, there are risks associated with this behavior. But there are also risks associated with crossing the street at a busy intersection. We do not tell young people to never cross a street. We each them about the risks and how to cross a street safety.

Effective Messages
It is essential to improve the Internet safety messaging for all youth and their parents. Messages must convey an accurate explanation of the risks and provide guidance on effective strategies for teens so they can prevent themselves from getting into a risky situation, detect if they are at risk, and know what to do to respond to the risk, including when they should request adult assistance. We also need to provide guidance on making ethical and responsible choices online. Parents need guidance on how they can be positively engaged ~ even if they do not fully understand the technologies.

Peer Leadership and Social Norms
Many teens are no longer listening to adults. The fear-messages and simplistic rules against normative online behavior have led them to believe that we do not understand their new world. We must focus on peer leadership/social norms strategies. There are many savvy teens making good choices online. They can influence positive online social norms. They can provide effective information and support to their peers especially of those peers are not making good choices or are being manipulated or harmed. They are the ones who will feel more comfortable reporting online concerns to adults. We must get them involved in invisible leadership and support activities.

An Initiative to Effectively Address Youth Risk Online

Youth Risk Online Consortium
Under NCLB, Safe Schools and Communities initiatives to address youth risk have been established at the national, state, and school/community level.21 These initiatives include safe school, mental health, and juvenile justice professionals. These safe school professionals often do not understand technologies ~ but they do understand youth risk and effective risk prevention. Technology services is frequently designated the responsibility for addressing “Internet issues” ~ which generally has no understanding of youth risk. Likewise, in Departments of Justice, juvenile specialists understand youth risk, but may not be associating with Internet crimes specialists.

  • Expand the Safe Schools and Communities Committees’ responsibilities to address youth risk online.
  • Expand the participation to include educational technology and Internet crimes professionals.

Effectively Ascertain Risks, Risk Factors, and Protective Factors
Every two years, states conduct a Youth Risk Behavior survey.22 There is no mechanism to assess youth risk online. Because youth risk online is associated with youth risk, it will be helpful to correlate the data.

  • Develop a companion Youth Risk Behavior Online survey that would enable states to assess incident rates, risk factors, protective factors, and correlate the data with the risk behavior survey.
  • Crimes Against Children Research Center has the greatest expertise to develop this survey.

Increase Research and the Translation of Research Into Practice
More funding for interdisciplinary research into youth risk online is imperative. It is also necessary to speed the translation of research into practice. It can take up to 18 months for a completed research study to even be published.

  • Lobby for increased funding for research into youth risk online, with a multidisciplinary oversight of research initiatives.
  • Hold regular “Expert’s Conference” to allow presentation of research, with analysis by experts in risk prevention, law enforcement, and industry. Collaboratively create recommendations for Internet risk messaging and safety initiatives based on this analyzed research insight. Recognize, and be comfortable with the fact, that this insight and recommendations may change with updated research insight.

Implement Education and Intervention Initiatives
Safe schools programs must meet Principles of Effectiveness Requirement and use research-based best practices.23 There are no research-based best practices to address youth risk online. It will be difficult to ever develop research-proven practices. Research will be constantly emerging. The technologies and activities are rapidly changing. But it is possible to implement approaches that are grounded in current research insight and to incorporate the insight from other effective programs to address youth risk. Such initiatives must also incorporate ongoing evaluation and modify their approaches based on this evaluation, as well as new research.

  • Provide funding for state and local-based education and community initiatives through the Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SAMHSA)24 and Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities programs.
  • Funding should be placed in the hands of the implementers, not the the developers, of Internet safety education programs.
  • All funded programs should be required to follow the requirements for a waiver of principles of effectiveness, including:
  • A needs assessment based on objective data that describes the problems or concerns currently faced. The Youth Risk Online Behavior Survey could provide this documentation, as well as other local or regional measures.
  • A detailed description of the implementation plan, including: a description of the performance measure or measures the program or activity will address; a description of how the program or activity will be carried out; the personnel to be involved; the intended audience or target population; the time frame for conducting the program or activity; and a detailed description of all costs associated with carrying out the program or activity.
  • The rationale for the program or activity, including: how it is designed and why it is expected to be successful in accomplishing the improvements described in the performance measures; a discussion of the most significant risk and protective factors the program or activity is designed to target; and evidence to support that the program has a “substantial likelihood of success.” This evidence must identify the current youth risk online research insight and effective risk prevention approaches that have been incorporated into the proposed program or activity.
  • An evaluation plan that addresses: the methods used to assess progress toward attaining goals and objectives; the personnel who will conduct evaluation; the way the results of the evaluation and new research insight will be used to refine, improve, and strengthen the comprehensive plan; and the way progress toward attaining objectives will be publicly reported.

1 Naisbitt, J., Megatrends: Ten new directions transforming our lives, New York, N.Y. Warner Books, 1984.

2 Thornburgh, D & Lin, H., (2002) Youth, Pornography and the Internet. National Academy Press.

3 Wolak, J., Mitchell, K.J., and Finkelhor, D. (2003). Internet sex crimes against minors: The response of law enforcement. Alexandria, VA: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

4 Wolak, J., Mitchell, K.J., and Finkelhor, D. (2007) 1 in 7 Youth: The Statistics about Online Sexual Solicitations.

5 American Association of University Women (2001) Hostile Hallways: Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual Harassment in School. 





10 E.g.

11 Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K., and Ybarra,, M. (2008) Online “Predators” and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment. American Psychologist, 63(2), 111-128.

12 Ybarra, M., Espelage, D.L., & Mitchell, K. (2007). The Co-Occurrence of Internet Harassment and Unwanted Sexual Solicitation Victimization and Perpetration: Associations with Psychosocial Indicators. Journal of Adolescent Health. 41(6,Suppl): S31-S41, S37.

13 Wolak, J., Mitchell, K., and Finkelhor, D. (2006). Online victimization of youth: Five years later. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Bulletin – #07-06-025. Alexandria, VA.; Rosen, L. D., et al., (2008) The association of parenting style and child age with parental limit setting and adolescent MySpace behavior, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2008.07.005

14 Rosen, supra.

15 Rosen, supra.

16 McQuade, S. (2008) A Survey of Internet and At-risk Behaviors. Rochester Institute of Technology.

17 This is based on multiple conversations with teens. Not validated by data. 

18 These assertions are based on numerous ongoing conversations with educators on three discussion email groups: Edtech, LM-Net, WWWEDU. 

19 See if you can figure out which filtering company blocks access to sites with information addressing sexual orientation in the same category as swinging and sexual technique. Or find the major filtering company that has a close corporate relationship with the American Family Association. 

20 Wolak, et. al.. (2006).



23 Section 4115. 


About the Author
Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D. is the director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use – She has degrees in special education and law. She taught “at risk” children, practiced computer law, and was an educational technology consultant before focusing her professional attention on issues of youth risk online and effective management of student Internet use. Nancy is author of two books. Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Cruelty, Threats, and Distress (Research Press) and Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens, Helping Young People Use the Internet Safety and Responsibly (Jossey Bass). Nancy’s focus is on applying research insight into youth risk and effective research-based risk prevention approaches to these new concerns of youth risk online.


2 responses to “Berkman Internet Safety Technical Task Force Take 1

  1. Great material here!

    What you said about quick fixes got me thinking: “quick fixes will not fix the human behavior problem and are likely to lead to false security that could make the human behavior problem worse.”

    Well said.

    Accountability software is a good bridge between a software solution and a behavioral solution. I’ve found that when a parent can model a life of accountability for a child, the Internet no long becomes a place of secrecy and anonymity:

  2. Congratulations on your wonderful work! It must have taken you a great deal of time to write, so it is sad that this important information was not able to be presented as is. The audience missed out on valuable information.

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