By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
R.I. Baker Middle School made a request recently to the Coaldale RCMP for a presentation on Internet and Smartphone safety after a few incidences have been reported with inappropriate use of cellphones and online activity, which is starting to occur throughout many schools across Canada and amongst all age groups. Baker has students from Grade 5-8. “The primary purpose of this is to talk a little bit about the hazards of putting pictures out there and some of the other things popping up. There’s inappropriate comments being made, there’s some threats being made with the use of phones and we want to make sure these kids realize the implications not only today but down the line — how it can come back to haunt you,” said Coaldale RCMP School Resource Officer (SRO) Cst. Doug Sokoloski.
The SRO added if a student posts a picture or comments about somebody online or on a Smartphone today, six or eight years later after graduation and when the student applies for a job, the picture or comments may still be out there online. “We want to make sure students are aware of it,” he said.
Sokoloski said Smartphones including the iPhone have only been around for awhile and is relatively new. With new technology, he added, the RCMP and other police agencies want to make sure students are aware of possible implications, as technology increases and expands.
Cst. Brittany Small, from the Picture Butte RCMP, delivered the presentation to students. Small, according to the SRO, has worked with the ICE team in Calgary or the Integrated Child Exploitation team. “She’s actually investigated and has been involved in warrants on situations involving child pornography,” he said, adding she shares her experiences with students including a video about a B.C. girl who was bullied electronically and how her life spiraled out of control with depression and the girl eventually committed suicide. “We’re just trying to get the message across now and nip it in the bud,” he added. The phone has a purpose and it’s great to have instant communication and connection but Sokoloski said students and parents need to understand the hazards that exist.
It is hoped, the SRO explained, these presentations will provide insights, so students don’t take it to the next step and do something they will regret for the rest of their life. Parents — are also an integral part of the equation. “I know it’s their kid’s phone but they’re paying the bill on it. The purpose of it is to be able to communicate with mom and dad and know where a child is at all times,” said the SRO. But, what’s happening now is, students are learning how to cover up their tracks online and on Smartphones. “Parents need to get in there and get passwords and check to see what’s being posted on Facebook,” he said. And other social media platforms.