Seminar on Cyber-bullying and Sexting Arriving in Washingtonville
“How to Keep Your Children Safe in Today’s Digital World”
By Eugenia Moskowitz
Think you know how to protect your children from cyber-bullying, sexting, and other dangers of the cellphone world? Think again. The Orange County Attorney’s Office sees dozens of cyber-originated and cyber-related crimes against minors every year. Two attorneys from the Juvenile Justice Unit of the Family Court Division will be giving an informative presentation for parents with Q&A afterwards at the Washingtonville Middle School Auditorium on Feb. 6 (snow date Feb. 7) at 6:00 p.m.
Senior Assistant County Attorney Sandra Williams and Assistant County Attorney Lara Morrison will address issues such as: What is cyber-bullying and sexting? How does it happen? Could a child be a victim and parents not even know? Can the minor doing the cyber-bullying face serious legal consequences? Williams and Morrison will impart to parents what they know about how these crimes start, how they unfold, and how to protect middle- and high-school aged children so they do not become victims in this ever changing digital world.
The Orange County Attorney’s Office said the presentation will contain an explanation and discussion of the issues its attorneys see on a daily basis that face today’s teens in the digital world, how best to prevent children from becoming victims: sexting, cyber bullying, password security, keeping information private, school threats as “pranks” on social media, and the complicated connections between dating/relationships and cell phones. The attorneys will offer suggestions on how to set basic rules for cell phone use and will give parents the tools they need to have conversations with their children, tweens, and teens about their digital lives.
Williams and Morrison will make it clear: images don’t just “go away,” and criminal liability can and often will attach itself to juveniles who initiate sexting and cyber bullying, because the victims of these activities could be hurt for life.
Since technology is constantly changing, and the apps children use to communicate are constantly evolving, what worked in the recent past may not work today. Because of this, the second half of the presentation will focus on cell phone technology itself: Apple vs. Android devices, common apps children use to communicate, which ones are okay and which ones are problematic (and why), how kids hide things on phones despite parents having pass codes, and how to get into phones and find things hidden there. They will also give a basic overview of parental control software — all explained in a non-tech-savvy way for parents who may often feel baffled.
The seminar has already been given at the S.S. Seward High School in Florida, NY. Principal Michael Rheaume said it was “highly educational, had the right pace, and parents were extremely appreciative of the information they received. It gave detailed insight on what they can look for, how and where to see hidden apps on cell phones, and what to do if their child is a victim.”
This multimedia presentation has won an award from the National Association of Counties and is well-regarded as both a comprehensive overview and a pragmatic guide on how to protect children during their middle and high-school years. While this lecture is free and open to everyone from any town, due to the nature of the material that will be discussed, it is for adults only, and children will not be admitted. For more information, please call the Washingtonville Middle School Main Office at 845-497-4000 or go to the school district website at http://www.ws.k12.ny.us.
CAPTION: (Photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)