Thursday, June 12, 2008

Attorney General's Office Visits McKinley School

Chris Kelly, the managing attorney for the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office Cybercrime Division spoke to a group of high school students at the McKinley South End Academy last Friday. Chana Green, a counselor at the school, contacted OIIT earlier in the school year to try and set up an internet safety talk for her students. "I felt my students really needed someone with knowledge to speak with them about this issue", Ms. Green wrote to us in an email. Attorney Kelly discussed issues of cyberbullying and online predators with the students. He gave them strategies on what to do if they are victimized online. He also showed them some videos made by other teenagers about true stories of what happened to them online. The students responded to Attorney Kelly, engaging in conversations about what they experience online and asking questions about online safety. Ms. Green added in her email about the talk, "I thought it was good because he brought real life situations to the class. I think showing the film was helpful. I think it made them aware ...they are very vulnerable and don't understand about the dangers that are out there."

Attorney Kelly also told the students that he used to think that teenagers were tricked into giving out their information online to predators. He said that he now knows that teenagers who are being groomed online are willingly giving out their personal information and willingly meeting up with strangers online because they think that the predator cares about them. One of the strongest messages he conveyed to the students was that these predators will say anything and everything to you online to gain your trust. He also told them to really watch out for their friends, look for the warning signs. If a friend starts talking about this wonderful person they met online who is going to take them away from all their problems, they need to step in and contact an adult or law enforcement about that. He also told them that they can contact the Cybertip line to report anything that they feel is causing themselves or their friends danger.

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