Bill Requires Telling Students of Online Risks; Internet 'Bullying' Also Would Be Covered

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Byline: Christina Bellantoni, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

RICHMOND - Virginia teachers would warn children about Internet predators and offer students Web safety instruction under a measure that's expected to pass the Virginia General Assembly.

"Young teens are often an easy target," said Delegate William H. Fralin Jr., a father of three who authored the bill. It was unanimously approved by the Senate Education and Health Committee yesterday.

The Roanoke Republican said Internet safety is a "growing issue" in Virginia.

His bill would allow schools to develop lesson plans that warn children about giving personal information or posting photographs of themselves on Web sites such as MySpace.com.

"Kids post profiles that include pictures, their likes and dislikes and where they go to school, and all of that information put together can lead people to figure out who you are and where you live," he said.

Mr. Fralin said students should be cautious when communicating with fellow teens on the Internet, and pointed to several cases in which sexual predators posed as youngsters to find victims.

Mr. Fralin's bill would also allow school officials to teach students about Internet "bullying," an increasingly common practice among youngsters. Under the measure, teachers and school librarians would be encouraged to work with local police to develop a safety program.

The full Senate is expected to pass the measure by next week. The House approved the bill 91-9 last week.

Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, said the Democrat likes the bill. "The governor thinks our children should be given some common-sense tools to protect themselves on the Internet," he said. …