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Is Censorship Ever Warranted?

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The vulnerability of children provides a potential warrant for censorship. Particularly given the development of internet access, both among home owners and educational institutions. Allowing for the risk of innocent children becoming exposed to ‘inappropriate’ content (Bremer & Rauch 1998). A risk that is amplified through the unknown, given the ambiguous nature of what the internet truly holds. These sentiments of concern have been prevalent among our society since the ‘moral panic’ of the 1990s, during which it was a common occurrence to see news headlines such as; ‘Pupils “at risk” of internet porn’ (Carvel 1998).

Given these characteristics it should come as no surprise that censorship quickly became a prominent strategy to limit children’s access to the interminable world-wide web. Through a collective effort; parents, schools and governments have worked in cohesion to cyber-patrol the internet. Commencing with parental guidance, giving rise to industry-sponsored projects such as the 1999 “GetNetWise”, which provided parental information in how to independently censor their children’s online experiences, through using filters to block and monitor offensive material. Additionally, we have seen an increase in shielding systems (Buckingham & Willett 2006), working to ensure all visitors to ‘explicit’ sites must be of a respectable age and maturity, through a screening process with the data they provide.

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Such measures have further been supported with legislation, such as the Children’s Internet Protection Act (McCarthy 2005, p.83), signed by the U.S Congress in 2000, requiring schools and libraries that receive federal money for internet connections to adopt internet safety policies. Resulting in the installation of audit-tracking devices and safe sites to censor out any content with reference to specific trigger words. It is the extremity of these measures that convey the true level of fear that the internet evokes among adults. In terms of the consequences we are educated on but more importantly, the consequences that we are yet to discover. Therefore, suggesting that a child’s censored internet access is warranted as preventative measures to protect their safety and allow for seamless development.

Censoring a child’s experiences within an educational institution can in fact be hindering the potential enrichment of resources. As suggested by Kenway, the internet may be Utopian, given that ‘information wants to be free’ (Kenway 1996, p. 223), thus suggesting that the internet is a ‘liberating medium’ (Lawson & Comber 2000, p.274), deviating from the bureaucratic and centralised control we otherwise experience when formulating ideas, and communicating with others. However, it is a general practice for governments to use such a resource in a dystopian way, targeting its potential for control and surveillance.

As a consequence of its wide-ranging and diverse character of national discussion (Reichman 2001, p.2), there is an increasing fear that without adequate censorship, children will be exposed to new ideas that do not necessarily conform to what we know today. Therefore, resulting in a level of censorship that tends to single out one specific agenda, ultimately foreclosing potential debate and crippling the education system. The most important role of schools within our society is to instil within pupils, democratic values of tolerance and intellectual freedom, and yet through these censored learning materials, we undermine the whole argument. In effect, censorship is producing a ‘sterile conformity’ (Reichman 2001, p.4) of children, learning that suppression is an acceptable way of responding to controversial ideas and images.

Works Cited

  1. Carvel, J 1998, ‘Pupils ‘at risk’ of Internet porn.’ The Guardian Online.
  2. Comber, T & Comber, C 2000, ‘Censorship, The internet and Schools: a new moral panic?’, The Curriculum Journal, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 273-285.
  3. Bremer, J & Rauch, P 1998, ‘Children and Computers: Risks and Benefits’, Journal of the American Academy of Childa & Adolescent Pschiatry, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 559-560.
  4. Kenway, J 1996, ‘The information Superhighway and Post-Modernity: The social promise and the social price’, Comparative Education, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 217-232.
  5. McCarthy, M 2005, ‘The continuing saga of internet censorship: the Child Online Protection Act’, Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal , vol.1, no. 2, pp. 83-103.
  6. Reichman, H 2001, Censorship and Selection: Issues and Answers for Schools, Amer Library Assn Editions.
  7. Buckingham, D & Willett, R 2006, Digital Generations: Children, Young People, and New Media, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, New Jersey.

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Is Censorship Ever Warranted? (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“Is Censorship Ever Warranted?” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
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