Merry Christmas, Ms. Amero

Christmas changes life into a delirious, happy, hopeful haze of eating, drinking, seeing friends and celebrating as the year comes to a close. For Julie Amero of Connecticut I suspect 2008 can't close fast enough.

Back in March last year I about the plight of Ms. Amero, a substitute teacher in Norwich, Conn. To recap, Ms. Amero was a seventh grade language class teacher. Little did she know that when she went to work on Oct. 19, 2004, her life was about to become very complicated.

On that day, while in class teaching, Ms. Amero was also Web surfing and checking her e-mail using a school-supplied computer. Suddenly popups started to appear, popups of a pornographic nature. It was bad enough that these popups appeared at all but what was worse was that they wouldn't stop.

Ms. Amero was at a severe disadvantage in this situation. She had been specifically told not to turn the machine off and, not knowing much about computers, simply didn't know what to do. Add to that the facts the school had no firewall, no Internet filtering and the PC had no malware protection of its own worth talking about, and Ms. Amero was at a major disadvantage in dealing with the problem.

Eventually Ms. Amero managed to block the children from looking at the screen (apparently some six children actually made efforts to look at the images and Ms. Amero had to physically push one child away from the computer).

It was a little later that the real nightmare began: Ms. Amero was charged with child endangerment, a charge that could have potentially sent her to prison for 40 years. Was the school or the school district's staff held in any way accountable? No. The only person the authorities charged was Ms. Amero.