Saturday, June 13, 1998
page N4

Library compromises child's rights

Re: Library clamps down on Net porn, May 23

Is this issue about material that has been determined, legally, to be pornographic? or is it about material that some people, in accordance with their own values, deem to be inappropriate or unacceptable for themselves and others? There is a huge difference.

Children cross the street. We take precautions -- speed limits, crosswalks etc. And pedestrians get killed. Parents educate, weigh risks, pray, and then, send their children on their way. Parents do follow different timetables. Most are very careful with toddlers, some walk everywhere with five-year-olds, and I suppose others insist on accompanying a 15-year-old to school. As parents they have choices. And, fundamental to choice, they can't force other parents to follow their lead.

The Information Highway, with its risks, pitfalls, safeguards, and warnings should be no different. I teach, I monitor, and I pray. I am the parent.

I have considered the options open to my child where the Internet is concerned. If my child seeks out adult sites on the Internet, there isn't much her parents or any other adults can do to stop her. If she happens upon adult material and doesn't understand what is presented, she will either EXIT or call me. Result -- either no effect or a values learning opportunity for us both.

Adult material she does comprehend? I hope she would be too busy to loiter too long over it. If not, I must be confident that her values will allow her to manage appropriately.

The library board will maintain there is choice for children at Central but is it a real choice, a good choice, or is there merely lip service paid to equity of access? The nearest Internet terminal to the children's department is at an adult-sized stand-up location. Other locations are upstairs, or in the separate non-fiction area, away from the majority of staff on duty.

Compromise? Yes, indeed. The rights of our children, and the commitment to intellectual freedom in Burlington have been compromised.

Leigh D. Morrison, Burlington

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