Stu­dents get schooled on on­line crime, bul­ly­ing

Waterloo Region Record - - LOCAL - Jeff Outhit, Record staff

WATER­LOO — Good news about the in­ter­net: kids are do­ing amaz­ing things on­line and most know how to stay safe from creeps.

Yet it seems some youths still don’t grasp that what they put on­line could last for­ever and may haunt them later when they seek jobs and schol­ar­ships.

Re­tired B.C. po­lice of­fi­cer Dar­ren Laur de­liv­ered this les­son at Lau­rel­wood Pub­lic School Thurs­day. He has in­ves­ti­gated in­ter­net crimes. It opened eyes.

“I think a lot of peo­ple need to know how to use (the in­ter­net) to its bet­ter po­ten­tial,” said Spencer Tully, 13.

Spencer goes on­line to play video games and to mon­i­tor top ten­nis matches, tak­ing care to avoid strangers and shield his iden­tity. He was star­tled to learn how crim­i­nals can ex­ploit the in­ter­net to black­mail peo­ple or steal iden­ti­ties for fraud.

“I hadn’t re­al­ized how much crime goes on,” he said.

Taryn Lacey, 12, was sur­prised to learn about the mis­use of cer­tain emerg­ing so­cial me­dia ap­pli­ca­tions that she doesn’t use. “I didn’t know that they could cause that much dam­age,” she said.

Taryn won’t let strangers fol­low her on­line. She cov­ers the cam­era on her iPod to help guard her pri­vacy. Her favourite on­line sites are In­sta­gram, Snapchat and YouTube.

She’s de­lighted that the in­ter­net keeps her in daily touch with friends all over the world af­ter she met them at sum­mer camp. Her par­ents couldn’t do this when they were kids.

“It’s re­ally fun to hear what they’re do­ing through­out the day,” Taryn said. “I find it re­ally help­ful be­cause it’s not like I’m los­ing all my friends.”

Laur has a busi­ness called Per­sonal Pro­tec­tion Sys­tems that preaches on­line safety. He told stu­dents they should use the in­ter­net be­cause it’s amaz­ing. He tells par­ents to let their kids go on­line. “I truly do be­lieve that so­cial net­work­ing is cool,” he said.

But there are risks that he wants ev­ery­one to learn. To il­lus­trate, he told stu­dents that

in the days be­fore he spoke to them, he searched Lau­rel­wood stu­dents on­line and used fake on­line ac­counts to per­suade five of them that he’s a teenage girl. He’s 52.

Stu­dents heard about on­line bul­ly­ing and youth sui­cides, an emo­tional topic. It baf­fles Leo You, 13, that bul­ly­ing re­mains a prob­lem de­spite the harm it causes.

Leo avoids so­cial me­dia but goes on­line for his cadet ac­tiv­i­ties, and to search art and in­spi­ra­tion for draw­ings. He uses the Pin­ter­est site.

The prac­tice at the Water­loo Re­gion District School Board is to in­te­grate the in­ter­net into class­rooms and to ed­u­cate stu­dents about on­line dan­gers, teach­ing them to be what the board calls good dig­i­tal ci­ti­zens.

“I think that ed­u­ca­tion is tak­ing root,” said Bryan Rank­ine, vice-prin­ci­pal at Lau­rel­wood.

Laur agrees. He’s seen stu­dents get savvier as the in­ter­net de­vel­ops. “The ed­u­ca­tional com­po­nent is start­ing to work for us. It re­ally is,” he said in an in­ter­view.

He doesn’t ad­vo­cate for keep­ing kids off-line. “The in­ter­net is what’s go­ing to make them a suc­cess in the fu­ture,” he said.

On­line lessons from Dar­ren Laur

Noth­ing is ever pri­vate. Things are never deleted. What you put on­line is pub­lic, per­ma­nent, search­able, ex­ploitable, copy­able and for sale. “The sooner you un­der­stand that im­por­tant rule, the safer you will be.”

Many kids share too much about them­selves, invit­ing iden­tity theft and fraud.

Your we­b­cam can be hacked and con­trolled re­motely, invit­ing strangers to prey on you. Tape it over when not us­ing it.

What you put on­line will be searched later by em­ploy­ers and schools. You could lose jobs, schol­ar­ships, and op­por­tu­ni­ties over post­ings you thought were long gone. Think be­fore you post.

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