Censorship On The Internet: Schools And The Role Of Parents

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College English, Period 8 Censorship is the prohibition of any content that is considered to be threatening or unacceptable by society (Burress 23). It occurs in many different aspects of life. Despite the different forms and amount of censorship, everyone is affected by it. Whether it is withheld information from the news, or avoiding a specific topic at the family dinner table, we have all encountered materials that were censored.

Censorship is predominantly seen in schools (Seiferth 151). It can be seen in the banning of specific texts, but teachers are also suppressed on which topics they can discuss thoroughly in class with their students. Content that is considered objectionable or sensitive is avoided in the classroom, a place that is ironically supposed to prepare developing minds for all phases of life in the future. It’s essential that all students receive all information so they can have the knowledge necessary in their future adult lives. For this and many other reasons, censorship should not be allowed in schools.

Censoring books in schools prevents children from gaining the knowledge which reading provides. Books all across America are censored mainly when they contain modern content, objectionable language, and sexual content (Ericson 79). When the school is in control of the censoring of books, they rule out anything that may appear as even slightly offensive just to avoid trouble. “One superintendent is even quoted as saying, ‘I don’t want a book that’s under fire. It may get me in trouble and I don’t need to look for trouble these days’” (Hartz 264). This unprofessional approach to the situation is putting many young minds at a disadvantage. Education is an enlightening experience, in which the mind should be free to wander to all the different aspects of life. Schools take part in shaping these minds, and censoring them hinders a student’s true potential (Hartz 264). When examining the adolescent mind today, it is important to take into consideration how the times have changed (“Combatting Censorship”). Censorship is a much larger issue today in schools than it was in the past (“Combatting Censorship”). Today, political challenges are increasing which are dividing communities and beginning to hinder the right of students to be exposed to certain novels (Ericson 79). However, in all schools, students will encounter the negatives of censorship. For instance, “The National Coalition against Censorship (NCAC) explained that ‘even books or materials that many find objectionable may have educational value, and the decision about what should be used in the classroom should be based on professional judgments and standards, not individual preferences’” (“Banned Books- Top 3 Pros and Cons”). Students may not read some of the best books of all time because of censorship. Ranging from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, these novels provide a vast amount of knowledge that students can apply to their very own lives. (“Banned Books- Top 3 Pros and Cons”). Reading dramatic fiction ignites the imagination in youth. Students deprived of fiction won't learn how to express compassion or how to be as creative as those who do read it regularly.

Another reason why books should not be banned in schools is that it is considered a violation of the First Amendment (“Censorship and the First Amendment in Schools: A Resource Guide”). “‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (“The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship”). Moreover, under the United States law, everyone has the freedom to say and read what they wish, no matter how controversial this knowledge they obtain may be (“Combatting Censorship”). It is the duty of public schools to provide students with everything they have the legal right to be learning (Seiferth 152). The classroom should be a marketplace of ideas, and our nation’s future depends on people who are exposed to a wide variety of ideas (“The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship”). Although Supreme Court cases including Tinker v. Des Moines prove that student’s rights are in fact limited in schools, this doesn’t mean that the information they receive should be as heavily censored as it is now in some schools. All books should be allowed in schools, and the children should then decide how to deal with the information presented to them, as it is indeed their first amendment right.

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While children in classrooms across the world are having information withheld from them, this is putting them at a great disadvantage for developing their opinions on current issues in society. Because they are not being exposed to the entire truth, children are not being fully prepared for all real-life scenarios. For instance, when teachers in Texas tried to discuss controversial current events with their students, they were “pressured to present only one side of the controversy” (Hartz 265). Those students were probably taught to read and write but never challenged with information that forces them to think critically about their own beliefs (Ericson 80). In addition, depriving students of multicultural information decreases their tolerance to people who are not like they are (Lee 23). Despite its good intentions, censorship prevents students from understanding differences, problems, and possibilities (Agee). Empathy, debate, and the skill of argumentation are essential skills that these children will need as young adults one day. Limiting conversations about the world in which they are living leads to the lack of perspective, and hurts our future society (“Banned Books- Top 3 Pros and Cons”). Eliminating censorship would result in people who can “function as more than self-obsessed individuals,” and “who respect the family dynamics, religious beliefs and race of others” (“Banned Books- Top 3 Pros and Cons”). These are the types of people who could lead to positive growth in society. Censoring information in schools deliberately infringes on the educational process of preparing students with different needs and beliefs for adulthood (“The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship”). The truth of the matter is that this type of discussion arises frequently in everyday life outside of the classroom, and it is only logical that students are exposed to these real issues before entering into adulthood (“The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship”). Censorship is crippling to freedom, and even founding father Thomas Jefferson expressed that “censorship represents a tyranny over the mind” (“The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship”). Schools diminish the curiosity of innocent minds that want to explore, as they seek truth and reason.

The act of censoring in schools hinders students, while simultaneously silencing the beliefs and opinions of teachers. Innocent teachers are often the victims of angered guardians for exposing “too much” controversial information in the classroom. It is a grueling task for teachers and administrators to remain calm while being pressured by enraged supporters of censorship. It is imperative that teachers remain calm, and keep in mind the best interest of the students in order to handle these difficult situations effectively (Seiferth 152). Even though librarians and teachers also have their first amendment rights, they are compelled to silence their opinions to appease parents “calmly and intelligently” (Hartz 266). Although there are many teachers who take part in the National Education Association fight for the rights of teachers in the classroom, there are also many teachers who are falling subject to censorship (Hartz 266). For instance, reluctant English teachers remove novels from their curriculum and avoid specific topics of discussion in order to appease the complaining community. Topics including the negatives of war, the positives of communism, the positives of protesters, and even race are rarely openly discussed in classrooms (Hartz 266). Because teachers are forced to censor material, they begin to partake in “self-censorship” out of fear, even for topics approved by the school, which further hinders their rights and the student’s rights (Agee). Because of this sad truth, they lose the interest and participation of their students in order to avoid being penalized for making a controversial statement. Furthermore, censorship makes it difficult for these teachers to balance “first amendment obligations and principles against other concerns such as maintaining the integrity of the educational program” (“The First Amendment in Schools: Censorship” ). Although most of society is concerned about the students when discussing censorship, it is important to note how this action takes the creativity and spontaneity out of the art of teaching. Conforming to educating the youth without their own personal flair, teachers are forced into bland and formulaic exercises. A teacher’s creativity and freedom are limited, which can prevent them from really touching specific students in the classroom (Lombardo). The limitations placed on teachers only act as a disadvantage to the children who are being deprived of relevant information.

Despite all the negatives that come along with censorship, many parents still insist that its benefits are essential to the education system. These parents try their very best to censor their children’s activities on the internet at home and are comforted at the idea that censorship in schools will prohibit the access of their children to the same harmful materials while at school (Lombardo). However, keeping controversial information out of the classroom does not prevent kids from researching topics on their own, nor does it stop books from being written. Whether they speak with their friends or visit the public library for use of the internet, there are still a number of ways that children can access this considerably “harmful” information. Parents also are only responsible for censoring information to which their children are exposed. Parents campaigning to remove books from the school’s library and prohibiting discussions from the classroom are unjustly infringing on the rights of the other students in the school (“Censorship and the First Amendment in Schools: A Resource Guide”).

Students realize the problems with censorship. This explains why in a public school in New York, students created an annual book banning project for 11th grade English classes. This activity allowed students to engage in extensive research, inside and outside of the classroom and got some of the books removed from their school’s banned list of novels (“Banned Books- Top 3 Pros and Cons”). This reform group proved that despite the wishes of strongly opinionated parents, censorship is combatable, and many students in the country agree with this group in wanting to put an end to censorship.

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Censorship On The Internet: Schools And The Role Of Parents. (2021, August 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/censorship-on-the-internet-schools-and-the-role-of-parents/
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