I attended a presentation at Elgin Park Secondary last week that was to inform parents and community about Internet Safety.
The presenter was Darren Laur, a staff sergeant with the Victoria City Police Department. He has started a business with his wife, Beth, that focuses on violence prevention, safety awareness and protection strategies.
As a career and educational consultant who primarily works in private practice with women and youth, I was keenly interested in how to provide my clients with more information about protecting themselves online, along with learning the importance of creating a good “digital footprint.” It is no secret that what is placed on the Internet will follow a person for many years to come, and that can influence employers and educational institutions in their decision making.
I do not have any children at that school, but it was my understanding that at least two grades’ worth of students attended an Internet-safety presentation earlier that day with Laur. I also believe there are more than 1,000 students who attend that school, yet it surprised me to see less than 30 adults in attendance that evening.
In an age of cyberbullying, sexting, Internet predators, identity theft, computer viruses and scams – each of which young people can find themselves as targets –you would think more parents would have made it a priority to attend this presentation.
I have listened, read and participated in discussions about these issues, and what you find is adults either feeling powerless or uninformed. Some parents continue to believe their children would never find themselves exposed to the situations outlined above or be the perpetrators of aggressive Internet acts – yet the frequency of stories would indicate otherwise.
There was a lot to take in, and even those who considered themselves technologically savvy were given some valuable tips; especially noted when it came to tracking within their own phones and online language.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, either. In fact, it was fascinating to learn how our children positively use the Internet. However, only a tiny fraction of parents came away better equipped to address inappropriate behaviour online or begin the conversation of both the negative and positive role it plays in their lives.
I do hope that poor attendance is not the norm for such important presentations.
Jennifer Chandler, Surrey