Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Student Internet Safety Act Of 2009 - June 15, 2009

Cathy McMorris Rodgers
June 15, 2009— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 780, the Student Internet Safety Act of 2009, which was introduced by my friend and colleague, Representative Adam Putnam.

This bill will allow local education agencies that receive Federal funds under the Safe and Drug Free Schools State Grants program and the Education Technology State Grants program to spend those dollars on developing and implementing programs that promote the safe use of the Internet by students. This important bill would allow school districts to use Federal funds to educate their students about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with individuals on social networking Web sites and in chat rooms. They could also use the funds to protect students against online predators, cyberbullying, or unwanted exposure to inappropriate materials, or promote involvement by parents in the use of the Internet by their children.

The Internet is a technological advancement that can be extremely useful for students, educators, and parents. Today, almost every public school in the United States has Internet access, and 79 percent of high school students use the Internet on a daily basis, including looking for information to assist them with their school work. These statistics are impressive and would have been unheard of a decade ago, but they demonstrate the changing nature of technology in our Nation's schools.

Today's youngest generation is the first generation to be born into a world proliferated by the Internet. These students use the Internet almost every day. From email, to social networking sites, to online interactive teaching forums, online encyclopedias, the Internet provides students and teachers with numerous tools and benefits every day.

However, there are many dangers inherent with technology as well. Children, especially young children, are at risk of becoming victims of numerous Internet-related crimes, including child pornography, cyberstalking, predators posing as children, or even more heinous crimes, including murder and rape. In addition to falling victim to Internet-related crimes, children can be exposed to age-inappropriate or harmful materials while browsing the Internet or conducting research for homework.

We know that the most effective way to prevent children from becoming victims of Internet-related crimes is to educate them as to how to avoid dangerous situations. There are several Internet sites and software programs that advise parents on how to talk about the subject with their children: what the dangers are, how to teach children to avoid them, and how best to monitor their children's Internet activities at home and at school. And public schools that receive funds under the Educational Technology State Grant programs are required to have Internet filtering software that limits what sites children can access from school computers.

However, many schools struggle to provide some form of Internet safety education or purchase this important software which would protect students against Internet crimes. It is clear that while much is being done, much more is required of us as the use of technology continues to expand.

H.R. 780, the Student Internet Safety Act, will ensure that schools and school districts provide students with the tools they need to use the Internet in a safe and secure manner to further their education. In today's world of Internet technology and global communication, a child's safety must be our number one priority.

I want to thank my colleague, Mr. Putnam, for introducing this important piece of legislation. I am proud to rise in support of it and ask my colleagues to support this bill that will promote the safe use of the Internet by students.

Mr. Speaker, I have no additional requests for time. I urge my colleagues to support the legislation and yield back the balance of my time.

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