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Home > News > Education > Instances of students accessing porn on district devices rare, school officials say

Instances of students accessing porn on district devices rare, school officials say

By Jeri Chadwell
kid at a computer for school

Public commenters at Washoe County School District (WCSD) Board of Trustees meetings have alleged several times that children are accessing pornography on district-issued devices.

It’s true, but rare, according to WCSD officials.

The claim has also been repeated over the past year-and-a-half on the private Protect Nevada Children Facebook group, most recently with links to a 37-minute documentary-style film called Raised on Porn. It was released on YouTube on Sept. 30. 

The film was made by Magic Lantern Pictures, a production company with ties to the conservative Christian non-profit Exodus Cry. The group’s work is geared toward abolishing the commercial sex industry.

As reported by the Daily Beast, Exodus Cry in February 2020 began “waging a campaign to shut down Pornhub on the grounds that the company enables sex trafficking. Dubbed #Traffickinghub, the movement rode the wave of hysteria over sex trafficking and pedophilia spurred in part by QAnon and the #SavetheChildren movement.”

The CEO of Exodus Cry, Benjamin Nolot, has expressed anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion sentiments over the years. According to Open Democracy, Nolot has also been linked to anti-LGBT hate groups including C-Fam.

In 2018, Nolot spoke at a banquet hosted by Awaken Reno, a faith-based non-profit organization focused on abolishing sex-trafficking and the legal commercial sex trade.

Nolot has directed other films for Magic Lantern Pictures, including one called Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution—sold as an up-close look at “millennial hookup culture.”

It drew criticism from equal rights groups when it was released on Netflix, with critics noting that Nolot has fundamentalist views.

According to reporting from Open Democracy, Nolot’s definition of sexual immorality includes any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage and blame for rape, sex trafficking and teen pregnancy should be placed on what he calls “toxic sexuality.”

The Raised on Porn documentary being shared on forums like the Protect Nevada Children group alleges that exposure to any pornography is likely to lead individuals to seek more and more extreme forms of it—like child porn—as viewers become desensitized.

But can kids really get porn on WCSD-issued devices? According to district officials, it’s unlikely — although, it has happened.

School district has safety measures to prevent access to pornography

Pornography has been accessed by students using district-issued devices, but district officials said only rarely. These instances occurred during the pandemic, when many devices were checked out for home use.

“We have learned of a few older students tampering with district-issued devices, but these cases are exceedingly rare,” a district spokesperson told This Is Reno. “In each case, the student suffered technology privilege and school consequences. In the vast majority of cases, our students and families use the devices responsibly…”

Instances of students accessing prohibited content on school district devices is rare because, according to Chris Turner, director of the district’s information technology department, controls are in place to maintain district compliance with the Children’s Internet Protect Act (CIPA).

Congress enacted CIPA in 2000 to protect children from “obscene or harmful content” on the internet. According to the Federal Communications Commission, schools and libraries that receive federal discounts on broadband internet must comply with CIPA requirements.

Turner said WCSD “conducts internet content filtering via two methods: on the network as well as on the device.”

He also said additional policies that protect kids using district-issued devices include user-level privileges that “disallow students from installing software on our computers, which supports the integrity of the network as well as the device itself.”

“We proxy network traffic for our on- and off-campus devices alike, which forces the engagement of our content filtering tools,” Turner said, adding, “Safeguarding all of our computer users is the IT Department’s highest priority, and we continue to examine our policies and tools in order to refine our protections.”

Turner said the IT department makes “every possible effort to block inappropriate use of any district-issued computer” by students.

“Our educators work hard to reinforce safety messaging surrounding use of the internet while teaching our students how to use their computers responsibly,” he said. “We also value our partnerships with our parents, guardians and families who help us monitor their students’ work on district-issued computers.”

This Is Reno attempted to contact some parents and guardians to hear firsthand their experiences with students seeking pornography on district-issued devices but did not receive any response by the time of publication.

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