Symons Elementary Stop the silence, Help end the violence

Photo by Joyce Ervin
Presenter, Cathy McCann, discusses cyber safety with a parent, Gail Hullstrung at a presentation recently given at Symons Elementary School.

By Joyce Ervin

Cyber bullying and predatory issues are serious problems for our youth.  Taking the reins to alert parents as to how they can help their children remain safe online was offered by Symons Elementary School Principal, Kimberly Gillow, at a recent Cyber Safety presentation.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has implemented an OK2SAY/Michigan Cyber Safety Initiative (CSI) as one tool to keep kids safe.  The initiative was presented to parents with the help of handouts, video presentations and verbal information provided by presenter, Cathy McCann.
 She emphasized statics stating 77% of sexual solicitation is done online and 69% of teens message people they don’t know and 81% of violent incidents in U.S. schools can be averted, as someone other than the attacker had knowledge of the attacker’s plan.
Students of any age are encouraged to tell a parent or other trusted adult if they encounter bullying or know of someone that is being mistreated and if they or a fellow student is contemplating suicide.
Gillow said cyber misuse isn’t only in Milan but a national problem.  Cooperation with parents and monitoring and discussing the issue with children is the first step in bringing the problem under control.  IT teacher, John Evans, says he hits the subject hard at the beginning of the year, but has decided to keep giving reminders frequently as well.
Awareness for cyber safety and alerting children to the dangers is begun at the kindergarten level with appropriate age-level lessons.  The sooner the issue is in the forefront, the safer our children will be, McCann said.
Utilizing the OK2Say tool is a great way to help your youngster understand the dangers in cyber land.  According to the website in part, it states, “The goal of OK2SAY is to stop harmful behavior before it occurs by encouraging anyone to report threatening behavior to caring adult authorities who can help. OK2SAY encourages Michigan residents to confidentially submit tips 24/7 using the OK2SAY mobile app, online, email, texting, or by calling trained program technicians.”
Further, “Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY technicians address the immediate need and forward the information to the appropriate responding law enforcement agency or organization. Tips go to schools, local law enforcement agencies, community mental health agencies or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.”
Parents present asked questions about You Tube, links that can be shared, predators and several  said they were going to become more familiar with online programs including video games that allow youngsters to communicate with people they may not know.
For those unable to attend, visit https://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-359-82918_ 80840—,00.html or call the school office at 734-439-5300.

Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer reporting on Milan.  She can be contacted at: jlervin42 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

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