Dear Parents and Guardians:
In the short time that I have worked in the California R-1 School District, I KNOW that the district prides itself on providing a safe learning environment for each and everyone of its students. That being said I have noticed that locally, and nationwide, there have been many troubling incidents reported regarding students and their use of the Internet.
There are many social media sites that are growing in popularity with students. Several of these have an instant messaging component as part of the site and some, the message automatically disappears after it has been seen.
Unfortunately, some of these sites are being used by con-artist, cyber-bullies, and child predators. From the research that I have done and communicating with other investigators that specialize in these types of crimes, we believe that this is caused by two basic problems:
Children can communicate and meet people outside the control of their parents.
Children and adults can communicate anonymously without the fear of getting caught.
I want to encourage all of you to talk with your children about the potential dangers of the Internet. Also encourage them to come talk to you if they get messages from people they do not know as well as abnormal messages from people they do know. These messages may be a start of a problem called “grooming.” These are actions done by people with ulterior, dangerous motives to attempt to make your child comfortable with them, so they will do things they would not normally do.
I also want to encourage you to establish rules and guidelines to ensure the safety of your child while on the internet. One rule I would like to suggest, something that I do with my children, is to review the content of all of their electronic devices, including their social media sites, on a regular basis.
I also want to assure you that the school district is doing all that it can to ensure the online safety of its students. One of the many measures is that they have blocked all social media sites from our school computers as well as being able to access them on our wifi.
If you would like more information about this matter I encourage you to go to www.connectsafely.org or www.cybersafetycop.com
Thank you for your time,
Deputy Scott Harkins SRO
Moniteau County Sheriff’s Office
California R-1 School District