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It Happened in Norwich

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
Where to start?

I have no clue since there is so much to write about.

So, I suppose the best way to start is to just jump in and let go.

Let's see…how about this one?

Suppose you are a substitute teacher in a small town. You aren't very computer literate and even need help making cell phone calls. Now suppose you are using the internet for some information in your class, you get a message to call your husband, you leave the room for a few minutes and when you return, several students are looking at some website for various hair styles.

No big deal, right?


Now, you start the class again, and then without any warning, the computer starts showing popup images for porn sites. Then the more the teacher tried to close out the images, the more came, for all to see. The current terminology for this is a 'pop-up storm'.

Now, this poor teacher had been instructed not to turn off the computer. As a result of these images being displayed to her middle school age students, this teacher was charged, tried and convicted and faces a possible sentencing of forty years in prison. Her sentencing is now set for March 29th.

The prosecution has admitted that the school did not have the proper filtering programs in place and that they did not check to see if the offensive sites were caused by adware or spyware which may have misdirected the websites to the pornographic ones which were viewed by the students. They also could not understand why the teacher had not covered the screen with a jacket or just shut the monitor off when the images first appeared.

This teacher (Julie Amero- Norwich, Conn.) has had her life turned upside down as a result of this ordeal. Obviously her defense is a huge expense to her family as well as the humiliation of having to go to trial. At her trial, it was admitted that no one had investigated her computer to determine if it was possible for these porn sites to get through the antiquated filtering system which was in place. The only evidence given was that of some of the students who had been in the classroom.

I suggest that Mrs. Amero might have used better judgment and pulled the plug on the entire thing and suffer the resulting consequences, whatever they might be. But, let's look at this situation realistically. Did her defense ask the offended students if these images were the first of these kinds they had ever seen before in their lives? While this entire situation is very touchy, and I don't wish to suggest that teachers go around showing porn in their classrooms, I would be very surprised if most of these students had not been exposed to this stuff before. Either on the internet or on television.

What we see or are able to see during prime time today was banned as being pornographic less than twenty years ago. At our house we stick with the History, Discover and Food channels more than anything else. I find it sad that you pay something like a hundred dollars a month for 200 or more channels and you are reduced to watching some guy from New Orleans making brownies at seven in the evening because there isn't anything else decent worth your viewing time. God only knows what teenagers have access to in this day and age.

Come on, the local newspaper account stated that the students observed several images of couple engaged in a sexual act that was the same as described in the impeachment of a recent president of the United States. As the former leader of our country described it in his testimony, what he did 'was not sex.' Everyone laughed and the country moved on past that little point in time. No harm done was the overall consensus. Or was it?

After reading all of the news accounts that are available, including ones from computer experts I find the conviction of Mrs. Amero to be unbelievable. Should she have received some form of disciplinary action?

Yes, certainly along with some computer training to improve her skills, but a potential of forty years in the slammer? Murderers, rapists, and child molesters often receive less than this.

No way should this have happened.

Of course, Norwich is only 120 miles from Salem.
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America >

April 10, 2007 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to www.pearyperry.com
Peary Perry's
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