“In­ter­net preda­tors the fo­cus of local film,”

New short film tack­les is­sue of on­line preda­tors

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - RON­ALD ZAJAC She can be con­tacted at danc­ing4change@ya­hoo.com. Rza­jac@post­media.com

In the ubiq­ui­tous sight of a teen look­ing at his or her phone, a dark and dan­ger­ous se­cret might lurk, one that B rockville-raised Kelli Gaut re au wants to make pub­lic in her lat­est short film.

Gautreau, the daugh­ter of lo­cals Ron and Joy Gautreau, who now works as a dance rand chore­og­ra­pher in New York, will screen the pre­miere of “( Our) Lit­tle Se­cret !” a short chore­ographed film meant to warn of the dan­gers of In­ter­net preda­tors, Mon­day evening at Galaxy Cin­e­mas in Brockville.

The screen­ing be­gins with a red car­pet event at the theatre at 5 p.m., where kids can pose inside a B rockville Po­lice Ser­vice cruiser. The screen­ing takes place at 6 p.m.

This is the third in what Gautreau, 34, hopes will be a 12-part se­ries of “danc­ing PSAs” (pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ments), short films with a mes­sage in­volv­ing chil­dren, all told through chore­og­ra­phy.

“The story’s al­ways told through dance and act­ing,” said Gautreau, adding the medium of dance reaches peo­ple but also leaves some things open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

When Gautreau landed on her lat­est topic, she went on­line and came across Ali­cia Koza­kiewicz, an Amer­i­can woman who, at the age of 13 in Jan­uary 2002, was the vic­tim of an In­ter­net lur­ing, was ab­ducted to an­other state and held cap­tive. Koza­kiewicz sur­vived the or­deal thanks to what her web­site calls “a mirac­u­lous res­cue by the FBI.”

Through “The Ali­cia Pro­ject,” she is now an ad­vo­cate for In­ter­net safety and aware­ness.

“She ba­si­cally guided the whole film,” said Gautreau.

Any pro­ceeds the film makes will go to The Ali­cia Pro­ject, she added.

The six-minute film in­cludes dance per­for­mances, filmed in Brockville with 30 local young peo­ple, text mes­sages flash­ing on the screen and K oz akiewicz speak­ing at the end, the lat­ter meant to re­in­force to view­ers that the dan­gers re­ferred to are not fic­ti­tious.

Gautreau hopes par­ents and young peo­ple will turn up for the screen­ing of the film, which will then go live on the web­site of her or­ga­ni­za­tion, Danc­ing4Change.

“I would not have done this with­out the B rockville po­lice be­ing in­volved ,” said Gautreau.

Det.-Cst Gra­ham Coe, of the Brockville Po­lice Ser­vice’s crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions branch, will hold a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion with the au­di­ence af­ter the screen­ing. Other speak­ers will in­clude Mayor David Hen­der­son, Scott Ne­wark from KINSA (Kids In­ter­net Safety Agency) and Ken Tay­lor from the In­ter­na­tional Cy­ber Pro­tec­tion Agency.

Coe said cases of In­ter­net lur­ing have the po­ten­tial of cross­ing in­ter­na­tional bound­aries, but in his ex­pe­ri­ence the per­pe­tra­tors tend to be local.

The de­tec­tive wants to use such pub­lic aware­ness oc­ca­sions to em­power young peo­ple to use their tech­nol­ogy wisely.

“Have a respect that you don’ t know who you’ re talk­ing to at the other end of that com­puter,” he said.

“They’re a good wake-up call,” he added.

“I’m hop­ing for a lot of par­ents in the room.”

While In­ter­net preda­tors have lurked in on­line chat rooms, they can now be found in multi-player games, such as Fort­nite and Minecraft, where they prey upon young play­ers by seem­ing to be­friend them un­der false p re tens es, be­gin­ning by com­pli­ment­ing them on their level of play.

The preda­tors are skilled ma­nip­u­la­tors, said Coe.

“They will re­place what­ever is miss­ing in that youth’ s life ,” he said.

“They will find out what you need and they will be what you need.”

Coe rec­om­mends the Cana­dian Cen­tre for Child Pro­tec­tion (www. cy­ber­tip.ca) as a re­source for the pub­lic.

Gautreau, mean­while, is hop­ing to do more films with her non-profit ven­ture and would like or­ga­ni­za­tions to come for­ward with ways her work can help them.

RON­ALD ZAJAC/THE RECORDER AND TIMES

Kelli Gautreau's lat­est Danc­ing4Change short firm, (Our) Lit­tle Se­cret!, screens on Mon­day at Galaxy Cin­e­mas in Brockville.

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