Pete Reilly's excellent post should be required reading for school administrators worried about online safety issues. I've blogged about this issue before, notably here and here. As Pete states, the actual intersections of online predators with schoolchildren are exceedingly low.
On a similar note, David Warlick recognizes that middle class parents are afraid to let their children roam their 'seemingly safe' neighborhoods.
All of this fear, most of it unfounded (at least statistically), has led many (most?) parents and administrators to operate from what author Ron Suskind calls the 'One Percent Doctrine.' Suskind uses this phrase to describe Vice President Dick Cheney's (and others') thoughts about the war on terrorism:
If there was even a 1 percent chance of terrorists getting a weapon of mass destruction -- and there has been a small probability of such an occurrence for some time -- the United States must now act as if it were a certainty.
This seems to capture the beliefs of school administrators, school communities, and parents pretty well: if there is even a 1 percent chance of something bad happening online, we need to act as if it were a certainty. Of course the concurrent question that administrators and parents should be asking is What do we lose when we operate using the One Percent Doctrine? I'm afraid that too many schools spend too little time asking themselves this question, but I am encouraged that at least some schools are thinking hard about this issue.
Thanks, Dean Shareski, for linking me to Pete's post!