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Pre-teen Membership
As you may know, there are some members of our forum that are combinations of parent and child. One of our members has recently written to me and told me that his son was interested in joining, but wondered what our minimum age requirement is. To date, the minimum age has been 13 years old, and anyone listing a more recent date of birth in their registration has been held up at that point.

I have done some research into the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the specific law that they oversee - known as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Essentially, this law requires that websites must have prior parental consent for their children under 13 to give personal information about themselves to said website.

Having looked into the requirements and definitions, I have determined that with a couple minor procedural adjustments, Parenting and Spanking qualifies for an exception to COPPA. To do so, we must not collect, nor allow a child under 13 to post personal information about themselves on our forum. We are allowed to ask for the child's e-mail address for the purpose of registration ONLY, and then we must delete or permanently alter their address immediately following their registration.

Because of this, should a child lose or forget their user name and/or password, we will be unable to send that information to them. Should this situation occur, the child may either register a new account (after which we can give them their original account information and delete the new account), or they can click on the "Contact Us" link at the bottom left of our pages to send an email directly to me to request their info. I would then delete their email and its address from my records in order to remain in compliance with COPPA regulations.

This change will result in a slightly different registration process. No longer will a date of birth be required upon registration. However, I will now require that after a member joins, they must add their date of birth to their profile information along with an introduction in the Foyer before their account will be activated.

As with our other Junior Members (ages 13-17), our adult members are expected to treat them with respect, kindness, and understanding of their points of view. Any communication with them is subject to review, and needs to be age-appropriate. At no time may a member ask for personal information to be given.

A complete list of rules for Junior Members under 13 will be posted here at the Front Door, as well as communicated to them via Private Message.

I understand that there may be a range of opinions regarding this policy, but I ask that it be given a fair shot. I don't expect this to result in a fundamental shift in the general activity on the board - mainly because I don't expect many minors under 13 to join. There will always be the question of "are they who they say they are?", but the same holds true for any member of this board - regardless of their stated age. Certain things can be verified by administration, that cannot be shared with the general membership. Our official policy is to expect honesty from all of our members, and to give them the benefit of the doubt until we have good reason not to.

As always, I appreciate everyone here who makes this a special place to visit. The support and friendship that we share is the reason why we do what we do, and I expect that will not change. Thank you all for your patience with me as I try to make this a place that will benefit all who visit in some way or another - and hopefully in many ways. We all have our own reasons for joining, and it's my hope that we can provide for as many of our members' needs as possible.

Michael Smile
Dad of 3 boys - Michael (19), Andrew (15), Daniel (13) and mentor to 1 boy - Jonathan (13)
Click for My Introduction
Click for My Interview
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This sounds very well thought out and smart.
I respect your decision on all matters related to the administration of the board. You know me, I don't think minors should be on the board at all, but I understand that others feel they contribute valuable input that outweighs the downside of allowing minors to participate.
Dad of 2 grown sons, grandfather to 2 young grandchildren
Click for My Introduction

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I think that we now have private areas for minors and adults to talk about sensitive and personal things that that will help a lot.
Junior Member Alumni, brother and cousin
My Introduction

I have a penguin and you don't.
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