Should Missouri require internet safety and behavior classes in school?

Requiring online behavior classes in schools

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A bill in the Missouri House of Representatives is a sign of the times, especially concerning kids and the internet. It would require schools to teach kids important safety lessons when they’re online.

“Just about everything we do is on the internet,” said Cape Central High School student, Cole Knight.

Between home and the classroom, it’s a big part of Knight’s day.

"Students are starting early, they’re starting young. They’re coming to us at school with cell phones already and knowing how to use apps and stuff,” said James Russell, Cape Girardeau Public Schools Technology Instructional Specialist.

Cape Public Schools already includes internet do’s and don’ts and online safety in classes from kindergarten to high school. It’s not anything new. According to Russell, they’ve done this since 2011.

This could become a requirement for public schools in Missouri under House Bill 169.

"It’s a basic skills preparation for our students, you know. Just being able to discern what’s good and bad on the internet, being able to deal with those things whenever you run into them. It’s just a skill that kids are going to have,” said Russell.

The bill would make an internet and social media awareness program mandatory for 4th and 8th graders and an elective for high schools. Russell said it’s a good idea.

"It’s not only a skill to keep kids safe, but it also teaches them how to navigate things they’re going to be using for the rest of their life,” said Russell.

Knight agrees this potential law would be beneficial.

"A lot of people say things because they're hiding behind a screen. It seems that there's a different social attitude on the internet than there is in person, and that can be really dangerous for a lot of people,” said Knight.

We checked in with State Representative Holly Rehder, and she said they expect to debate the bill on the House floor next week.

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