Scarsdale Middle School Students Hear About Cybersafety from Police Detective
Scarsdale Middle School students engaged in a frank discussion recently, when they were visited by Detective Sherry Albano of the Scarsdale Police Department to learn about cybersafety.
“The world has changed in terms of bullying,” said Detective Albano, who also is Scarsdale’s Youth Liaison Officer. “Today with the Internet, bullying can be much more pervasive. And we call it cyberbullying.”
Sometimes the issues can be serious, she told students.
“Is my purpose to scare you? No,” she said. “I’m here to provide you with accurate information and empower you. Remember that you’ve got the power to do the right thing online.”
The detective visited with health teacher Michael Greaney’s students throughout the day, discussing online safety, how students can avoid becoming victims of cyberbullying and online predators, and how they can avoid getting into trouble with the law by misusing social media.
Even if students have social media accounts that are set up for privacy, said Detective Albano, hackers can get into their personal and social media accounts, steal names and even photos from social media sites. Many young people have become the victims of serious cyberstalkers, trusting those people with online “friendships” that can end with tragic consequences.
The detective explained the case of Casey Rene Woody, an Arkansas teen who logged into a Christian chat room and became infatuated with David Fagan, whose online photo showed a high school football player. They spent months chatting online, and made plans to meet.
It turned out that Fagan was a grown man who kidnapped Casey and killed her. Her father, a police officer, set up a foundation in her name to protect future young people from Internet predators.
“You have to be wise,” said Detective Albano. “They know how to play the game. There’s no such thing as Internet-only friends.”
She also warned students to behave online, particularly on popular and sometimes mobile apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Yikyak and others. Young people who send inappropriate photos or videos of themselves to others often learn that those images have fallen into the wrong hands or even gone viral.
“Sending inappropriate photos of yourself can result in a very, very serious charge,” she said, noting that some students around the country have been charged with felonies for disseminating indecent material to minors.
“Don’t make poor choices,” she said. “You can’t take those choices back.”
Detective Albano is available for questions that parents or students may have and serves as a resource to parents for information and tips on drug and alcohol prevention. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-722- 1204.
For more information about cybertsafety, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website on cyberbullying at http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/index.html.