Censorship in the Schools

"Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas."— Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A

"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us."—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas,"  The One Un-American Act." Nieman Reports , vol. 7, no. 1 (Jan. 1953): p. 20.

“The Fourteenth Amendment, as now applied to the States, protects the citizen against the State itself and all of its creatures—Boards of Education not excepted. These have, of course, important, delicate, and highly discretionary functions, but none that they may not perform within the limits of the Bill of Rights. That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes.” — Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson,  West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)

“It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate....In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate.”—Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, in  Tinker v. Des Moines Community School District

Links to Information on the First Amendment and Intellectual Freedom

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

Information on rights kids have in schools.

ALA Policies and Statements on the Freedom to Read

Library Bill of Rights

Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights

ALA Code of Ethics

Libraries: An American Value

Freedom to Read Statement

Intellectual Freedom Resolutions

Other Policies and Guidelines

Minors, Libraries, and the Internet

For Young People

Schools and the Children's Internet Protection Act

Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials

Reporting a Challenge

Shooting The Messenger: Why Censorship Won't Stop Violence

New Stories on Students and Their First Amendment Rights

News Sources on Censorship, Intellectual Freedom, and the First Amendment


Banned Books

Banned Books and Censorship

Banned Books On-line

Banned Books Week

Council of Trent: Rules on Prohibited Books


Court Cases

Young people have First Amendment rights. This page will provide information and links to explore these rights. This page explores those rights determined by courts. See also Intellectual Freedom for Young People Home Page and School.

Worthwhile Places to Visit


What you can do and how you can organize

This page shows you what you can do and how to organize to protect and promote intellectual freedom. See also Court Cases, School: Intellectual Freedom for Young People, and First Amendment Resources.

Below are links to Learn What You Can Do and How to OrganizeWhat Else You Can DoHow to Communicate Effectively, and a Bibliography.



Learn What You Can Do and How to Organize

What You Can Do

"There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn't matter who gets the credit."— Ralph Waldo Emerson

How to Organize

"To stand together is going to be hard. Our movement is composed of all kinds of groups and all kinds of individuals. It is certain that many of us will make all kinds of mistakes. It will become very tempting to wish that this group or that group, this individual or that individual, were simply not among us. My particular plea is that we not surrender to this temptation. We must certainly be frank with each other when we disagree, but my plea is that we not begin to be afraid of any of us and, in a panic, try to wish any of us out of the picture. We will need every one of us. We are all part of one another."— Barbara Deming


What Else You Can Do


How to Communicate Effectively



Send suggestions for this Web site to nperez@ala.org.

Especially for young people and their parents


Revised May 31, 2007

“The Internet offers kids many opportunities for learning, constructive entertainment, and personal growth. At the same time, parents are concerned about the risks kids face online. The challenge for parents is to educate themselves and their children about how to use the Internet safely.”— GetNetWise


“By embracing values over filters, we are expressing trust in our children, that they will decide wisely when the opportunity for misjudgement presents itself. By stressing values over filters, we send the clearest message to our children: As is true of the real world, you can go anywhere you wish, and it is ultimately up to you to decide what is right and wrong and face the consequences of your judgement. This, over time, would help enforce personal accountability and a permanent sense of responsibility and self-respect. Nowhere in this process can we turn to cold, impersonal, valueless technology and expect that to help define the moral element of our global civilization.”—Robert J. Tiess, “Encouraging Values Over Filters”



Know The Rules (PDF): “Teenagers, 12–19, especially GIRLS, are the most victimized segment of the population in the United States.” See also other  publications from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Safety on the Web and Other Safety Issues: From the Children's Library, Lower Level, 350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC.

CyberTipline: “The Congressionally mandated CyberTipline is a reporting mechanism for cases of child sexual exploitation including child pornography, online enticement of children for sex acts, molestation of children outside the family, sex tourism of children, child victims of prostitution, and unsolicited obscene material sent to a child. Reports may be made 24-hours per day, 7 days per week online or by calling 1-800-843-5678.”

Netsafe: This site, developed by the Illinois Library Association, is a resource on how to use the Internet safely.

Publications of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: A number of publications available from the NCMEC.

Web Wise Kids: “Web Wise Kids is committed to preparing children, teens, and adults to make wise choices when using the Internet.”

BlogSafety.com: “BlogSafety is a not-for-profit project that derives funding from social networking sites, including those affected by this legislation.”— Larry Magid

Online Safety Guide: From GetNetWise.

Family Contract for Online Safety: From GetNetWise.

BullyingBullying.org: Where You are Not AloneCyberbullyingBraving Bullies (for Children, Teens, and Adults), Safety Resources for Young People, and Stop Cyberbullying ("A social network to discuss cyberbullying, identifying resources and solutions to address this epidemic of online cruelty.")

Consumer Reports' (CR) Latest Tests of Filtering Software (May 2005)
"Show that while Internet blockers have gotten better at blocking pornography, the best also tend to block many sites they shouldn't. In addition, Consumer Reports found the software to be less effective at blocking sites promoting hatred, illegal drugs or violence. The June issue includes ratings of 11 popular filtering software products and advice for concerned parents who are trying to better protect their children online. . . . Filters kept out most, but not all, of the pornography. The worst performer blocked 88 percent, enough to serve as an obstacle, but not impervious to a persistent teen. — Information sites can be snubbed, too. The best porn blockers were heavy-handed against sites about health issues, sex education, civil rights and politics."

Internet Safety Pledges: From Netsmartz. 

NetSmartz: "The NetSmartz Workshop® is an educational resource for children aged 5 to 17, parents, and teachers on how to stay safer on the Internet. Since the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) was first established in 1984, it has worked to make children safer. In 1994, long before this nation realized that the Internet might pose a threat to the safety of its youngest users, NCMEC released a brochure titled Child Safety on the Information Highway, providing families with a roadmap to stay safer in cyberspace. Later, when cases of online child enticement garnered front-page news nationwide, NCMEC's brochure, Teen Safety on the Information Highway, became the first publication of its kind to try to prepare teens for the risks they face online. Every year more and more children of all ages go online to study, have fun, and communicate with the world at large. Just as the numbers of kids online have grown, so have the dangers they face."

Reporting Trouble: From GetNetWise. “On a playground, being teased by another child is far less serious than receiving a sexual advance from a stranger. On the Internet, receiving junk e-mail is far less serious than being enticed by a stranger in a chat room. It’s important not to overreact. But how do we recognize when a problem is serious, or when it’s simply part of being online?”

Internet-Related Safety Tips for Teens: From the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids: From the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Surfing the Net with Kids: “Welcome to my vision of what’s wonderful on the Web. Welcome parents, kids, teens, grandparents, teachers, librarians and the incurably curious.” Barbara J. Feldman is a “syndicated newspaper columnist, mother, wife and Net surfer supreme (not listed in order of importance, of course).” She recommends sites for kids and families in “millions of newspapers each week.”

Searching the Internet Effectively
According to Librarians’ Index to the Internet, “In eight steps, the author of this site introduces readers to basic Internet search tools, discusses how to use them effectively, and provides tips for evaluating results. Updated infrequently (it’s a resource for a continuing education class), but the simple design of this tutorial makes this resource well worth it even when the links need sprucing up. From Alistair Smith, who teaches library science at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.”

Netsmartz Workshop: From the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Netsmartz Workshop presents a variety of interactive training tools to teach online safety.

Cyber Tipline: From the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Cyber Tipline handles leads from individuals reporting the sexual exploitation of children.

Seguridad infantil en la autopista de la información (PDF): PDF file from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  Additional information.

Teen Safety on the Information Highway: By Larry Magid.  Revised 2004. From the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Additional information.

Publications on Internet Safety and Other Topics: A list of publications from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Notes, Advice and Warnings for Kids on the Web: By Stephen Savitzky.

Assessing Internet Access (PDF): By Nancy Kranich, ALA President, 2000–2001, Media Studies Journal, Fall 2000, 42–45. “Both children and adults need to learn the critical skills that will help them make good judgments about material on the Internet and elsewhere.” (To print the article, print pages 53–56.)

Safekids.com: By Lawrence J. Magid. For parents and kids.

Safeteens.com: By Lawrence J. Magid. For parents and teens.

Yahooligans Rules for Online Safety: Adapted from material by Lawrence J. Magid. Also includes other resources.

Connect for Kids: "Connect for Kids, an award-winning multimedia project, helps adults make their communities better places for families and children. The Web site offers a place on the Internet for adults—parents, grandparents, educators, policymakers and others—who want to become more active citizens, from volunteering to voting with kids in mind."



Ask Jeeves for Kids

Awesome Library

Education World

Family Friendly Search

Fact Monster


Kids Search Engines

Kids Search Tools

LycosZone for Kids

PBS Kids



TekMom's Search Tools for Students

What Makes a Web Site Good?




The Libraries and the Internet Toolkit: The American Library Association (ALA) has produced this "toolkit" to assist librarians in managing the Internet and educating their public about how to use it effectively. ALA encourages all libraries to implement policies that protect both children and public access to information and to take an active role in educating their communities about this important resource.

KCTools: It will help you become more comfortable with the research process. In KCTools you'll find help with four basic phases of the research process. It begins with "I wonder" and asks you to think about your question or topic and how to seek further advice on the Internet.

School Libraries & You: A Web site of the American Association of School Librarians. To help parents and children learn to use the Internet together.

Teen Reading: Teen Hoopla does not exist anymore. This site has information on encouraging teens to read and about ALA's Teen Read Week. 



AOL's AOL@School: Includes resources for K-12 students.

Between the Lions: A PBS series and Web site of interactive stories and games for kids learning to read and write. The American Library Association, and two of its divisions, the American Association of School Librarians and the Association for Library Service to Children, are founding partners in the Between the Lions series.

GetNetWise: Wanting Internet users to be just “one click away” from the resources they need to make informed decisions about their family’s use of the Internet, GetNetWise is a Web-wide partnership organized to help ensure that families have safe, constructive, and educational or entertaining online experiences.

Families Against Internet Censorship: Families Against Internet Censorship opposes government regulation of Internet content to “protect the family.” “[P]arents are the people best suited to decide what their children should and should not see.” A resource for anti-censorship families. Includes a list of families willing to speak out against Internet censorship.

kidSpeak: Kids have First Amendment rights—and kidSPEAK helps kids fight for them!”

NetLingo.com: NetLingo.com is an online dictionary. “If you want to get the most out of the Internet and the World Wide Web you're going to have to understand the language that everyone is using online.”

Web Sites for Kids: “Finding content on the Internet that is educational, entertaining, and appropriate for kids is one of the most important things a Net-wise parent can do. GetNetWise has asked a few of the experts to help get you started. ”

Evaluating Web Sites: WHAT MAKES A WEB SITE GOOD?: From the Multnomah County Library Homework Center. “Here are some questions to ask when you’re looking at a site that will help you decide whether or not it’s good: ”



Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: “The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a nonprofit consumer education, research, and advocacy program. Our publications empower you to take action to control your personal information by providing practical tips on privacy protection. ”

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (1974): “Congress passed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also known as the Buckley Amendment) to protect the accuracy and confidentiality of student records; it applies to all schools receiving federal funding. The Act prevents educational institutions from disclosing student records or personally identifiable information to third parties without consent, but does not restrict the collection or use of information by schools. The statute also requires educational institutions to give students and their parents access to school records and an opportunity to challenge the content of records they believe to be inaccurate or misleading.”

Kidz Privacy: Found on the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site, Kidz Privacy has information on privacy for children and adults, including safety tips and resources.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA): Libraries are an important source of Internet access for children, and librarians are primary navigators of information for both children and parents. Librarians need to understand what the COPPA is and what it means for libraries, children, and parents. Created by the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy.

Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Online Privacy (PDF): “Today, more and more children are using the Internet to access the wealth of knowledge and communication that it offers. Because we understand that protecting children's privacy online is a very important job for parents and teachers, TRUSTe has teamed with Classroom Connect to produce the Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Online Privacy.”