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
New Stories on Students and Their First Amendment Rights
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
- Foundations of Free Expression: Historic Cases
- The Right to Read Freely
- Freedom of Expression in Schools
- Minors' First Amendment Rights
- Free Press
- The Right to Dissent
- The Right to Free Association and the Freedom of Religion
- Right to Privacy and Anonymity
- When Is Speech Unprotected?
- The First Amendment and New Technologies
- Related Court Cases
- U.S. Supreme Court Links
- Findlaw First Amendment Annotations Expanded
- First Amendment Court Cases
- First Amendment Library
- Freedom of Expression in Schools
- Education for Freedom (Freedom Forum)
- First Amendment Schools Web Site
- Illinois First Amendment Center
- Kids Speak Online!
- The Right To Read: Censorship in the School Library
- Student Rights (ACLU)
- Youth Free Expression Network
- Do People Still Burn Books?
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.
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
- What You Can Do - Bill of Rights Defense Committee
- What You Can Do - ALA OIF
- What You Can Do - Youth Free Expression Network
- What You Can Do - Youth for Human Rights International
- Coalitions Against Censorship
- ACLU Action Center
- What You Can Do - ACLU
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
- 411 on Youth Organizing
- Tips and Tools for Organizing Resolutions in Defense of the Bill of Rights
What Else You Can Do
- Kidspeak!: Learn how kids can help oppose censorship.
- Learn about who else cares about the First Amendment and intellectual freedom.
- Counter censorship in your community.
- Find sensible and reliable information about safety and security for political activists.
- Subscribe to various news and discussion e-lists.
- Join or donate to the Freedom to Read Foundation.
- Join the Intellectual Freedom Round Table.
- Subscribe to the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom.
- Read other news sources.
- Join the Freedom to Read Foundation or donate to the Merritt Humanitarian Fund.
- Make intellectual freedom in all of its forms a central part of your library’s mission.
- Advocate support for the library’s role in preserving intellectual freedom. Talk to local library and school boards, the media and elected officials at all levels of government.
- Monitor the news and your community for incidents of censorship in your area and report them to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
- Lend your support to others who are facing censorship challenges.
- Stay up-to-date on legislation and court cases that could effect intellectual freedom in libraries.
- Network with civil liberties groups and other organizations in your area that are dedicated to intellectual freedom principles. Your support for them will mean increased support for libraries.
- Learn how other intellectual freedom advocates organize to help ensure that intellectual freedom is protected.
How to Communicate Effectively
- Coping with Challenges: Kids and Libraries: What You Should Know
- Handling Tough Questions
- Sample Answers to Tough Questions
- ACLU Forums
- Contact Elected Officials about Issues/Legislation related to Intellectual Freedom
- Soul of a Citizen by Paul Rogat Loeb
- Teaching for Engagement by Paul Rogat Loeb
- Time to Act by Paul Rogat Loeb
- The Hundredth Volunteer by Paul Rogat Loeb
- Campaigning for Free Expression: A Handbook for Advocates (PDF)
- Books on Community Organizing
- George Lakoff
Send suggestions for this Web site to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Especially for young people and their parents
Revised May 31, 2007
ONLINE SAFETY RULES AND SUGGESTIONS
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.”
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.
Bullying, Bullying.org: Where You are Not Alone, Cyberbullying, Braving 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.
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."
DESIGNED-FOR-YOUNG PEOPLE SEARCH ENGINES
ADDITIONAL ALA WEB SITES FOR PARENTS, YOUNG PEOPLE, AND LIBRARIANS
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.
OTHER EDUCATIONAL SITES
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.”