Food for Thought on Filtering

We've all seen the terrible images from the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina (and the less-than-stellar response from government agencies). These images included corpses. For example, there was a picture of a dead elderly person slumped over in his wheelchair. Are these pictures suitable for viewing by young children? Older children? Do children have the coping skills to deal with such images? From your readings, would filtering software block these images and these stories? Are there ways other than blocking to approach this issue?

We also read stories about children being preyed upon by adults posing as children in chat rooms. The adults set up meetings with the children for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Some libraries have banned all access to chat rooms to prevent such exploitation. However, this also bars access to chat rooms for children with catastrophic illnesses, and for children of alcoholic, drug-addicted, or abusive parents. Is it appropriate to ban access to such chat rooms? If a library is located in an area with a large number of economically-disadvantaged children, would those children be likely to have alternative access to these resources?

What is the larger problem for society?

In light of this problem, what is the dilemma for librarians? Where does the ALA stand on this?

If you are a librarian in a poor community in which the e-rate is essential to offering Internet access for your patrons, yet the e-rate is contingent upon putting filters on your computers, what do you do?


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