Monday, November 18th, 2013, Hope Lutheran students in grades 3-5 and grades 6-8 separately assembled to learn about and discuss safety when using the internet or social media. Internet Victims Advocate Stefanie Thomas from the Seattle Police Department led students through the process of thinking about what kinds of social media they used, how and when they used it, and how to evaluate their safety practices. Many students were surprised to find out that nothing on the internet is private – nothing. It doesn’t matter what your security settings are or whether you trust your friends explicably; we leave an electronic paper trail the minute we hit the send button. One of the main points that Stefanie repeated to the students is that they must stop and think every time they are going to hit the send button because that information will be available to everyone FOREVER! Stefanie was direct and concise when describing what the law said when it came to use of social media.
Stefanie’s presentation made a huge impact on both students and staff. One of our seventh grade students took notes and later wrote up her thoughts, as follows:
“Today Victim Advocate, Stefanie Thomas, from the Seattle Police Department visited our school to talk to us about cyber bulling and social network security. During the assembly I thought it would be good to write about what I personally got out of it and could apply to my life.
Number one, when it comes to the internet and social networks there is no such thing as privacy. Once you post a picture, comment, tweet, Snapchat or anything you can never take it back. No matter how hard you try to delete it the Internet will always have it on records and people can find it.
Number two, if you have a social network account(s), never put your private information like your address, phone number, birthday, age, full name, email address and any other information you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with a random person on the street. Also, don’t have a picture of your face, like a selfie, for your profile picture. In reality if you wouldn’t give a random person on the street a piece of paper with your information on it, then don’t put that information on the internet. It’s the same scenario just a different visual.
Number three, cyber bullying is actually against the law. People don’t know how much words can hurt others, and sometimes those words could cause people to hurt themselves, or even take their own lives. One month ago in Miami, Florida a 12-year-old girl committed suicide by jumping off an abandoned building in her town. This happened because of cyber bullying. A 12 year old girl and a 14 year old girl had been bullying her over Facebook, KIK, Ask.fm, and other social networks for a year. They were both arrested and the 12 year old was put on house arrest while the 14 year old was taken into custody at the Miami, Florida juvenile center.
From the whole assembly these three things really got to me, but the one thing that especially did was that you should ALWAYS think before you say something, or before you hit send, because your words can impact someone else’s life.”
Stefanie also provided us with links to more information about internet and social media safety. We have included that information here for parents. If you have any questions, please contact the school office.