Tim Baird: Get Pornography Out of EUSD Elementary Schools
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Immediate steps must be taken to ensure children are no longer at risk for being exposed to pornography in EUSD schools. The school board must publicly communicate the risks and consequences of exposure to district families, and EUSD elementary students who have been exposed to pornography must be provided support and professional counseling. Additionally, the school board must appoint a multi-disciplinary third party panel to examine the magnitude of pornographic exposure and to review the use of computers at EUSD and perform a rigorous benefit vs. risk analysis.
Since the introduction of iPads at Encinitas Union School District, significant numbers of elementary school students have been exposed to pornography, including hardcore pornography at school or on school-issued iPads. While there does exist a limited amount of research that meets the standards of scientific rigor that suggests elementary students moderately benefit from specific learning software or applications under certain conditions compared to traditional teaching, there is almost no data to suggest that elementary students benefit from regular access to the internet at school. Conversely, it has been well established that children exposed to pornography at an early age often develop feelings of anxiety. These children suffer all the symptoms of anxiety and depression. They may become obsessed with acting out adult sexual acts that they have seen, and this can be very disruptive and disturbing to the child’s peers who witness or are victimized by this behavior. Children under twelve years old who have viewed pornography are statistically more likely to sexually assault their peers. in sum, children exposed to pornographic material are at risk for a broad range of maladaptive behaviors and psychopathology. We are therefore asking that internet access for children at EUSD be immediately suspended at their schools and the following steps be taken:
Publicly communicate the risks of exposure and potential harmful impact the children to families in the district in all related literature, contracts and meetings
Provide children and families that have been exposed to pornography access to a board certified psychologist with training and experience in counseling children that have been exposed to pornography. School counselors, while perhaps sincere and hardworking, are not sufficiently trained to do this.
Appoint a third party to investigate the magnitude of pornographic exposure to elementary school children at EUSD since 2012. Collected and analyzed data must be released to the public.
Establish a third-party expert panel to review the use of computers at EUSD, taking into account the development of the whole child, and perform a proper benefit vs. risk analysis. In addition to third party educators, include child psychologists, pediatricians, ethicists, pediatric ophthalmologists and pediatric neurologists. Publicly communicate results.
If EUSD is going to continue to provide internet access, invest in top of the line internet filters. Work with a board certified clinical psychologist to develop a reporting system in which children and parents take a sense of pride, rather than hesitation or fear, in reporting pornography at school and via school-issued devices. Collect, track and analyze exposure data. Report the number of exposures to the Board and public on a quarterly basis with an emphasis on reduction.
Issue a public apology to the parents and the children that have been exposed - some repeatedly - to pornography at EUSD
Read what the American College of Pediatricians says about young children and pornography
Despite the lack of a pilot program or broad multi-disciplinary review, iPads were introduced into the district in 2012. From 2012-2015, very little was done to block pornography or other unwanted content on these devices. As a result, large numbers of elementary children were exposed to pornography and Superintendent Tim Baird was slow to take action, doing so only after caving to pressure from outraged parents. This was reported extensively in the press at the time and many of the related articles can still be accessed via the internet. A small selection of published articles can be accessed via the links provided below.
In 2016, my family again started hearing stories from other parents in the district that pornography was still being accessed by children at the EUSD, oftentimes accidently. As a result, we refused to sign the district's electronic agreement form. Nonetheless, this year my third grader was exposed to pornography (a sex act) when he and another third grade student used the Google search engine to search for pictures of Pokemon to draw. In a second instance, an article describing the best sex positions popped up on the feed of my son’s computer in class. Both of my sons have now been exposed to pornography and harmful content on multiple occasions at their elementary school.
What can you do?
First, you should know that if an employee of EUSD learns that your child is exposed to pornography at a private residence, it is likely that they will call CPS and you and your family will be interviewed and investigated accordingly. In fact, this has happened to families at EUSD. Keep in mind, that it is likely that some of these children were first exposed to pornography at school. On the other hand, if your child sees pornography at school, on school issued computers, it is unlikely that you will receive even as much as an apology and the school will not report this information to any oversight agency such as CPS. Simply put, EUSD refuses to care for students en loco parentis, and is unwilling to accept responsibility for potential negative consequences as a result of children being exposed to pornography under their watch. Further, your child will not be offered counseling by appropriately trained professionals. Instead, as happened to my family after reporting that our third grader was exposed to pornography at school this year, it is likely that you will be provided training information regarding monitoring and managing your child’s digital world, etc., and told that education and adults are the best filter.
Considering the points above, we encourage parents not to sign Electronic Resource Agreements or associated policies provided by elementary schools. By law, schools must provide your child a fair, equitable and non-discriminatory education and you are not required to release the district of liabilities as a prerequisite to their education. Instead, we suggest that you write into the contract, “Thank you for providing my elementary school child the opportunity of internet access while at school but it would be irresponsible for me as a parent to sign an Internet Use Policy without a clear understanding of the safeguards in place to protect my child and others from pornography and internet dangers. I would also need a clear understanding of how you will support my child and how related information is handled should my child be exposed to pornography or other unwanted internet content at your school.”
Unfortunately, schools don’t change without significant public pressure at the district level. Please consider emailing Tim Baird at Timothy.Baird@eusd.net and copy the school board members at Emily.Andrade@eusd.net, Leslie.Schneider@eusd.net, Rimga.Viskanta@eusd.net, Gregg.Sonken@eusd.net, and Marla.Strich@eusd.net to express your concern. If you do email Dr. Baird, please be respectful. We may not agree with him on this issue, but we do recognize that like all involved in public education, he has a tremendously difficult and often thankless job.
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