Protecting Students Online

By Naomi Dillon

Credit her siblings, all of whom make a living in technology, or her natural inquisitiveness, but Cathy Scolpini wasn’t one of those adults who had to be dragged into the information age.

“I guess I didn’t want to be left behind,” says Scolpini, the lead instructional technology teacher for Virginia’s Pittsylvania County Schools.

That was in the late 1990s, and all Scolpini had to worry about was teaching the staff the basics: how to use Microsoft Office, the Internet, and various other software programs. Now her task is far more complex.

Today, Web-savvy kids are trying anything and everything to connect to their peers, but are not aware of the dangers that lurk in online communities. Teachers and, to a lesser extent, parents are not as facile with the new technology, and are hard pressed to keep tabs on what kids are doing.

For schools, it’s a 21st century information and generation gap -- and it’s growing as fast as a computer virus.

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