Would Censoring the Internet Prevent Cyber-Bullying?

Playing out in the Internet tabloids this week is the story of Jessi Slaughter, an eleven-year-old girl whose YouTube rants have resulted in death threats and unsavory rumors in a classic case of cyber-bullying.

In Australia, where a proposal to filter the Internet has been volleyed on and off the table for the past few years, a recent op-ed argues that filtering the Internet could potentially protect young people like Slaughter, who "isn't aware of what she's doing."

Filtering proponents in Australia have long argued that the mechanism is necessary to protect children, whose parents may not be aware of the dangers of the Internet, or may not use computers at all. One proposal in Australia would give schools the right to respond to student's activities on the net outside school hours.

A rebuttal to the argument appeared in Gizmodo's Australia edition, with the author, Nick Broughall, arguing that "no filter in the world would help Jessi Slaughter." Broughall maintains that parents should play a strong role in children's Internet activities, and that a filter would not impact content such as Slaughter's video, as it was hosted on YouTube, a site that would not be blocked under the proposed Australian filtering scheme.