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Carrying Banned Website Awareness Beyond October

News stories about dictatorial governments “shutting down” the internet can reinforce awareness of the relatively unrestricted access U.S. citizens have to the web. But there is a day in October that highlights the lack of freedom some people endure. Called Banned Websites Awareness Day (BWAD) and sponsored by the American Association of School Libraries (AASL), the purpose of this day is to encourage “school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning.”

The idea came about as a result of Banned Book Week, the effort to bring attention to censorship involving removing books from libraries, bookstores, and other venues. BWAD makes a similar call related to excessive internet filtering by schools.

According to the BWAD website, “Usually the public thinks of censorship in relation to books. However, there is a growing censorship issue in schools and school libraries—overly restrictive filtering of educational websites reaching far beyond the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

“Students, teachers, and school librarians in many schools are frustrated daily when they discover legitimate educational websites blocked by filtering software installed by their school.

“Filtering websites does the next generation of digital citizens a disservice. Students must develop skills to evaluate information from all types of sources in multiple formats, including the internet. Relying solely on filters does not teach young citizens how to be savvy searchers or how to evaluate the accuracy of information.”

In addition to offering resources to educators, such as articles and a whitepaper on technology in schools, the BWAD site also provides a list of important links that can be used to address the issues of filtering and limiting student access to important educational resources.

About the Author

Margo Pierce is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer.