Chief for a day tack­les on­line be­hav­iour

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - PM 40069697 FOUNDED IN 1853 - DE­NIS LAN­GLOIS

Eleven-year-old Taryn Lee has a warn­ing about the po­ten­tial con­se­quences of post­ing neg­a­tive im­ages of oth­ers on­line.

The Grade 5 East Ridge Com­mu­nity School stu­dent, who was sworn in as “chief for a day” of the Owen Sound Po­lice Ser­vice Wed­nes­day, wrote in her win­ning es­say that some­times young peo­ple will go “too far” in their pur­suit of re­ceiv­ing as many “likes” as pos­si­ble on a so­cial me­dia post by post­ing a pic­ture that can be harm­ful to some­one else.

“The sad truth is that kids that worry most about this are girls. They are most vul­ner­a­ble. Girls worry about how they look to oth­ers and if a bad pic­ture is posted of a girl, it could af­fect the way she feels about her­self. This could be a form of bul­ly­ing if re­peated over and over to hurt some­one,” she wrote.

“It’s un­healthy for some­one that is get­ting bul­lied be­cause it af­fects their men­tal health. Cy­ber­bul­ly­ing can lead to so­cial anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, school ab­sences, with­drawal from your peer group and just want­ing to be alone and sad. Some­times kids don’t ask for help and they com­mit sui­cide be­cause they feel things won’t ever get better.”

Taryn’s es­say also in­cluded ways that peo­ple can help to stop on­line bul­ly­ing be­hav­iour, such as by ask­ing the per­son to take the im­age down and re­mind­ing them about how it could make oth­ers feel. If that doesn’t work, she said talk­ing to a par­ent or teacher could help.

Const. Craig Ped­dle said Taryn’s es­say was the best among all the sub­mis­sions for the ninth an­nual “chief for a day” es­say-writ­ing con­test, part of lo­cal Po­lice Week ac­tiv­i­ties.

The ser­vice in­vited Grade 5 stu­dents in Owen Sound to write on the topic of healthy so­cial me­dia post­ing.

“I’ve read a lot of things that young peo­ple have pub­lished over the years and your es­say was ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic,” he told Taryn.

The es­say, he added, is a re­minder that post­ing “un­healthy things” on­line can im­pact peo­ple for a long time.

On Wed­nes­day, after tak­ing “the oath of of­fice,” Taryn read her es­say to a small au­di­ence of po­lice of­fi­cers, depart­ment staff and fam­ily mem­bers at the down­town sta­tion.

As “chief for a day,” Taryn got to wear a uni­form with po­lice hat, ride in a po­lice ve­hi­cle, visit the foren­sics lab and spend the day “work­ing as chief.”

Her class will get a pizza party as well within the next cou­ple weeks.

Po­lice Week ac­tiv­i­ties are to con­tinue to­day with the pre­sen­ta­tion of Chief Ci­ta­tion Awards. This year, awards will be handed out to those who stopped to per­form life-sav­ing first aid dur­ing a se­ri­ous mo­tor ve­hi­cle col­li­sion on the 10th Street hill last year, and an­other in­di­vid­ual who has shown many years of com­mit­ment to the safety and well­be­ing of women and chil­dren in the com­mu­nity.

On Fri­day, there will be pub­lic tours of the po­lice sta­tion at 922 2nd Ave. W. be­tween 1 and 4 p.m.

DE­NIS LAN­GLOIS/THE SUN TIMES

Taryn Lee, a Grade 5 stu­dent at East Ridge Com­mu­nity School in Owen

Sound, sits in the driver seat of an OwenSound Po­lice Ser­vice SUV after be­ing "sworn in" Wed­nes­day as chief for a day. The an­nual event is part of OSPS's Po­lice Week ac­tiv­i­ties.

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