Not three weeks out from me going over points about Cyber Safety with my Boone Middle School 6th, 7th, and 8th graders – Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum spent time talking with Lake Gibson Middle School students about the very real dangers they are exposed to by using the net. Nice to see the State taking a keen interest in spreading the message!
I am a huge proponent of using Web 2.0 applications in the classroom – especially tools like VoiceThread, Skype, Blogs, and the like. I share the notion of folks like Dean Shareski, who believe that students should be taught to navigate the web from outside the walled garden of school-based proxy filters. I’m real with my students about the dangers that are out there. Sometimes to the point of scaring them. But we push the envelope with Web 2.0 as much as we can – putting projects out there for people to see, sharing our thoughts and ideas about various topics, etc – and it’s my job to be sure that these great kids have the knowledge they need to access the web safely.
Our local Sheriff’s department is taking steps to help educate and protect students as well. The topic of the “LMIRL” (Let’s meet in real life) came up, and McCollum used stories of how online predators work to teach a valuable lesson on how to steer clear of such individuals.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who was on hand to talk to the students Monday, said his office is working hard to protect them. In undercover online stings, the Sheriff’s Office has arrested men who thought they were meeting children.
“We’ve arrested over 85 people who thought they were talking to someone your age,” Judd said.
McCollum said Judd and his agency are “pioneers in cybersafety,” in conducting the stings and providing education on online predators and hopes other counties will follow.
Now students can add both the Sheriff’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office as MySpace friends.
“There will be a star on your page and it tells the predator that you’re saying ‘no’ to old, old men trying to talk to young folks,” Judd told the students.
Maybe Officer McGruff will provide a neat badge for kids to put on their sites as well. I’ll definitely request that one!
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