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April 20, 2012 > Cyber Bullying and Digital Safety

Cyber Bullying and Digital Safety

Submitted By Gisela Hernandez

As the Internet and technology have evolved, so have the means to abuse them, raising the question: how do we protect kids and teenagers from a range of digital threats, from cyber bullying to online predators? On Monday, April 23, Fremont Police Department Sergeants Jim Koepf and Gregg Crandall will present a special Washington Hospital Health & Wellness seminar focusing on cyber bullying and digital safety. The free lecture will take place in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditoriums at Washington West in Fremont.

"The presentation will talk about not only cyber bullying but also taking advantage of someone online," Sgt. Crandall says. "We will talk about things like making sure that kids have everything set to private when they're using Facebook. For instance, why do you have to put up your birthday and school you go to for everyone to see? If I'm a bad guy, all I have to do is look at their information online and show up at their softball game."

Sgt. Crandall says that the presentation is geared toward anyone in the community with access to the Internet-including kids, parents, and even those with a school-age niece or nephew.

"The seminar takes an interactive approach, and we'll send everybody away with a family contract, which is a one-page 'I will do this; I won't do that' agreement that family members can sit down and fill out and put it on the refrigerator," he says. "We're never going to be able to catch all the online predators, but if we can save one kid from the effects of cyber bullying or online predation, then we've done our job."

Lucy Hernandez, Operations Coordinator for the Community Health Resource Library at Washington Hospital, who was responsible for organizing the upcoming talk, points out that cyber bullying can have long-term consequences.

"Bullying in addition to cyber bullying can lead adolescents to depression and other psychological problems," she notes. "In some cases, cyber bullying has led students to substance abuse, violence, and even suicide. The effects of bullying can last a lifetime; therefore, such behavior should be dealt with during developmental stages."

Hernandez adds that teachers, administrators, and parents should be aware of behavior changes in students who have been bullied or harassed.

"Many adolescents have a digital life, and for many adults, social networking sites are a whole new and unfamiliar world, thus making it difficult to identify and manage the effects of cyber bullying among their students," she says. "Additionally, many adolescents may have trouble reading social signs and do not know what they are doing is hurtful. This seminar will educate school officials and parents on the warning signs of cyber bullying and demonstrate to adolescents its long-lasting negative consequences."

To find out more about digital safety, including identifying and preventing cyber bullying, join Sgts. Crandall and Koepf next Monday, April 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. To register, call (800) 963-7070 or visit www.whhs.com.


Cyber Bullying and Digital Safety
Monday, Apr 23
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditoriums
Washington West
2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont
(800) 963-7070
www.whhs.com

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