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KLSD is working to help students understand and practice internet safety. Last week, Assistant District Attorney Robert Mayes visited our sixth and seventh graders to speak on this topic.
Mr. Mayes began by showing students a fun montage of the best celebrity ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos, featuring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Downey Jr., Vince McMahon, Triple H, Dwayne Johnson, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and others.
"The Ice Bucket Challenge is believed to have originated in southern Westchester,” said Mayes. “It went viral.” More than 17 million people uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook; these videos were watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times.
“Why is this important? It shows the awesome power of the internet,” said Mayes. “The Ice Bucket Challenge is a positive story. However, negative things can go viral, too.”
Robert Mayes is one of one hundred and eighteen assistant district attorneys and thirty-four criminal investigators who report to Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. Working closely with the county’s chief law enforcement officer gives Mayes a unique perspective to share.
“We have an undercover presence on the Internet 24/7. Our Bias Crime Unit looks for victims targeted because of their race, religion, or ethnicity," said Mayes. “The law considers these crimes especially egregious and treats them as such.”
“How do you use the internet?” Mayes asked the young audience.
“Online games . . . FanFiction – I write stories about the books I like. Roblox . . . Snapchat . . . Instagram . . . Netflix . . . " children called out.
“What do you use the internet for that you probably shouldn’t?” he asked.
Dead silence. Blank stares. Then laughing, whispering, and finally, “Madden Mobile . . . VPN . . . Rate My Teachers . . . gossip.”
“I can read body language pretty well,” said Mayes. “You know what you should and should not be doing online. I’m here to remind you to make good decisions.”
He shared three internet rules to live by.
1. If you are the victim of cyberbullying: Stop. Block. Tell.
2. Don’t be a cyberbully. If you have posted something hurtful, take it down. Make amends.
3. Don’t be an enabler. If you see something hurtful, don’t laugh. Don’t pass it on.
Mayes closed with a story about a seventh grade girl who committed suicide after being bullied online. He recalled the Ice Bucket Challenge example of how things can spread online and added these sobering statistics:
- One in five teens send naked pictures of themselves online.
- 45% of teen boys have seen naked photos of one of their classmates and shared it.
“You have to recognize the harm that online bullying can do to people on the receiving end,” said Mayes.
“Be smart. Safety first. You all know what is right and what is wrong.”
ADA Mayes will be returning to speak with the eighth graders in April. In addition, last week, JJMS PTO held a presentation for parents on Technology and Social Media: Monitoring and Management.
KLSD Director of Technology, Ahunna Akoma, will be running sessions for parents on internet safety and digital citizenship in the coming weeks at our elementary schools. She will provide resources and information to help parents support the safety of students both at home and in school. These sessions are supported by our PTA/PTOs.
Two are scheduled as of right now. Please join us for this important and relevant presentation as well as coffee and conversation.
Here are two resources on internet safety we hope you will find useful.
Eighth graders at John Jay Middle School explored how to use social media responsibly – remembering that there’s someone on the receiving end of almost every post – through the National Theatre Project award-winning play Out of Bounds at The Ridgefield Playhouse, on November 10. MORE.