Mandatory internet safety education proposed for all Virginia public schools


ROANOKE, Va. – There’s a bill that would make internet safety education mandatory in Virginia public schools.

HB1575 is being talked about right now by lawmakers in Richmond.

The Safety While Accessing Technology (SWAT) education program would include:

  • Instruction on safe use of social networking websites and communication

  • The risks of sending personal information on the Internet

  • Copyright laws on things like photo, music, and videos

  • The importance of open communication with adults about any online communication

  • Recognizing, avoiding, and reporting suspicious, potentially dangerous, or illegal online communications, including solicitation by sexual predators, harassment, and cyberbullying

  • Resources for families who may have encountered online solicitation by sexual predators or other illegal online activities

The Safe Surfin’ Foundation has been working to put this bill together with Lynchburg Delegate Wendell Walker.

“That’s what we’re trying to do is prevent our young children from getting caught up in something they may think is totally innocent and before they realize it, then you’ve got predators just zooming in,” said Walker, who added there is a lot of support from law enforcement who have been dealing with internet crimes for years.

The Delegate says it would be up to each school system on how and when to implement it. It could be a health class, after school program or something else.

Amanda Staubs was taken by a predator she talked to online and knows what can happen.

“It would mean a line of defense against cyber predators. It would mean that education is there, no matter what your walk of life is, no matter what your home life is. There’s that difference because unfortunately, there is never a way to stop the cyber predators. They are always a step or two ahead of any type of police enforcement or education that we can give,” said Staubs, a National Spokesperson for Safe Surfin’ Foundation.

“We can’t get to enough people fast enough and that’s our one desire. We want people to take it serious. We want them to know that predators are out there. They are looking for these kids,” said Vicki Johnson, Staubs’ mother who is also a National Spokesman for Safe Surfin’ Foundation.

The bill also requires each local school board to adopt policies requiring all elementary and secondary schools to provide the SWAT education program at least once each school year to students in grades three through 12. Parents could opt their kids out.

Right now, the bill is in a sub-committee. To read the proposed bill, you can visit this link.

Copyright 2023 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.



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