DA Ryan in the Community

Middlesex District Attorney’s Office Educates Malden Students on Cyber Safety

MALDEN – “Navigating the Cyber World,” an initiative launched by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, was presented this week to 550 students at the Salemwood Middle School in Malden.

The program, featuring experts from Ryan’s office’s Cyber Protection Unit, addressed Internet safety, online privacy, sexting and cyber bullying during two presentations, one tailored for 5thand 6thgraders and the second for 7thand 8thgraders.

District Attorney Ryan launched the cyber safety initiative last fall in conjunction with the office’s nonprofit partner, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc. It has been presented to middle and high school students across Middlesex County, including Malden High School.

“Teens more than anyone else rely on their mobile devices and social media to connect with their friends,” District Attorney Ryan said. "While it is wonderful that we communicate with our friends and family online, we have to remember to do so carefully. This program is about empowering youth to take control of their online persona and make good choices.”

The cyber safety program educated students on how to stay safe online, including avoiding scams, being mindful of fake personas and profiles, and protecting themselves from cyber-predators.

For the 7thand 8thgraders, the program also discussed the dangers of sextingSexting involves sending a nude or semi-nude photo electronically.  While the initial messages or images are often intended to be private, they can be easily shared and forwarded to others.  Such images can spread quickly across a school community or across the Internet, resulting in a humiliating situation for the party involved, and, in some cases, in an offense that can be criminally prosecuted as dissemination of child pornography.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc. have developed an informational brochure, Technology Tips for Parents, which is available online and in many schools.  MPY offers in-service training programs for school staff on cyber safety.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office also provides the following safety tips:

Online Safety Tips for students:

  • Do not share personal information on social media sites, including your address, birthday or phone number
  • Never share your passwords with others
  • Never arrange to meet a stranger you’ve met online
  • Do not click on links or download files from someone you do not know

Online Safety Tips for parents:

  • Talk to your children about their use of the Internet and social media to set guidelines and determine what is appropriate use
  • Make Internet use a family activity by keeping computers and iPads in a central location in the home
  • Keep cell phones and chargers out of your child’s bedroom at night to discourage late-night texting
  • Remind your children that people they talk to online are strangers and may not be who they claim to be
  • Let your child know it is OK to come to you if he or she is uncomfortable with something that took place on the Internet

Middlesex County is the largest county in Massachusetts and one of the largest counties in the country with 54 towns and cities and 26 colleges in urban, suburban, and rural areas, comprising over one quarter of the population of Massachusetts.   The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office prosecutes more than 35,000 cases a year in 17 superior, district and juvenile courts and has offices throughout the county, including in Ayer, Cambridge, Concord, Framingham, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Newton, Somerville, Waltham and Woburn

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