DA leads cyber safety program for Waltham students

McDevitt Middle School Principal Elizabeth Gavin, McDevitt Middle School teacher John Haley, MDAO General Counsel David Solet, District Attorney Marian Ryan and Superintendent Susan Nicholson

Waltham News Tribune

February 12, 2014

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and experts from her office’s Cyber Protection Unit spoke to 600 students and staff from the McDevitt Middle School recently about Internet safety, online privacy, sexting and cyber bullying.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and its nonprofit partner, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc., have launched "Navigating the Cyber World," an Internet safety presentation for middle school and high school students in Middlesex County.

"Teens more than anyone else rely on their mobile devices and social media to connect with their friends," 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 over 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 online, and reminding teens to never arrange to meet someone they do not know.

In addition to cyber bullying, the program discussed the dangers of sexting. Sexting involves sending a nude or semi-nude photo electronically. While the initial messages or images are often intended to be private, they are easily shared, sent and forwarded to others. Such images can spread quickly across a school community 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, according to the DA's office.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc. (MPY) 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 provides the following 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
  • Do not post or send nude or semi-nude photos
  • Never arrange to meet someone you met online
  • Do not click on links or download files from someone you do not know

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office also provides the following 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 phone and chargers out of the 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

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