By Ed Harris
Derynoski Elementary School recently invited members of the Southington Police Department into the school to speak with students and parents about internet safety.
Last week, school officials held two presentations, one for the students and another geared specifically for the parents. Officers Tom Gallo and Chad Butler hosted the seminars.
“They don’t understand what could happen,” said Derynoski Principal Jan Verderame, adding that a lot of the issues happen outside of school. “They need to be educated.”
The officers shared local stories and examples from around the country instructing students to know who they are talking to, being careful who they share photos and personal data with and cyber bullying.
“Just be careful,” said Gallo. “That is the biggest thing.”
Gallo described fake Facebook accounts that send out multiple friend requests as a way people try to acquire personal information from children. He also warned students that the ten-year-old they think they are sending photos to could actually be a sexual predator.
Another major issue the officer’s addressed is cyber bullying Gallo said it mirrors face-to-face bullying, and includes ongoing harassment and threatening.
“I’m hearing about these cases on a weekly basis,” Gallo said. “It’s becoming more prevalent.”
Gallo said, including the high school, he hears about three to five instances of cyber bullying a month. And these are the cases that rise to the need for potential police involvement.
The officers urged parents to keep an eye on what their children are doing online. They told parents to keep the computer, including smart phones, in a common room. Parents were also instructed to know who their children’s friends are in social media.
“Make sure you know what your kids are doing,” Gallo said.
The officers will bring the presentation to other schools in the coming weeks.