School district takes issue with state AG staff's 'safety' comments
PHILADELPHIA — A school district outside Philadelphia has halted state-sponsored assemblies about online safety after one in which the presenter made references to al-Qaida, serial killers and child pornography during a talk to 9- and 10-year-old students.
Principal Anne Heffron said in a message to parents of fourth- and fifth-graders at Merion Elementary School in Montgomery County that Wednesday's assembly with staff from the attorney general's office was intended to promote the use of technology “in a safe and appropriate manner.”
“While there were many worthwhile and timely topics shared with students about the use of technology, there were several comments and topics that were presented that were not age-appropriate for a 9- and 10-year-old audience,” Heffron said.
She said the comments included “explaining that it is illegal for children or adults to take pictures (referring mainly to cellphones) of children with ‘no clothes on.'” The presenter also asked students during a discussion of online video games how they know that the person they are gaming with “isn't a serial killer.”
Other comments that caused concern included assigning “homework” for students and parents to go to the Megan's Law section of the attorney general's website to learn about sex offenders in their neighborhood and a joking reference during a discussion of having a cellphone for emergencies “defining an emergency as a kidnapping by al-Qaida.”
Heffron, who apologized for any concerns caused, said most of the information was important for students to understand, but officials believe “that the assembly can and should be improved in consideration of the young audience.”
The assembly in the Lower Merion School District school was the first in a series of presentations by the attorney general scheduled for all elementary schools, but remaining programs “have been put on hold so that the district can ensure that more appropriate content is delivered,” Heffron said. She said the presenter “appropriately modified” his presentation for the grades 1-3 assembly following feedback on the fourth- and fifth-grade program.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Stocks slide in busy week of quarterly earnings reports
- NFL Draft preview: Sizing up the specialists
- Former soccer goalie Lambo chasing NFL dream
- Experts high on Pitt tackle Clemmings entering NFL Draft
- Most talent in NFL Draft play at Steelers’ positions of need
- Former Tennessee DE Hendrix announces transfer to Pitt
- Vikings running back Peterson absent but wanted
- Penguins’ Pouliot learns from rookie season
- Teacher called hero in Wash. school shooting
- Steelers receiver Brown attends workouts despite previous comments
- Riot erupts in Baltimore after funeral for man hurt in police custody