Schools teach perils of social media

Published 8:33 pm Friday, January 6, 2012

Demopolis High School and Demopolis Middle School will each host special programs next week designed to educate teens and parents about the inherent dangers of social networking.

“With the cell phone and the internet and all the technology, and we’ve had some problems where I felt like we needed to get our students and parents more aware of the consequences involved with some of these things,” Demopolis High School Principal Leon Clark said. “What we’re trying to do is raise an awareness with our students and the parents, so they know what is going on.”

The program, entitled Internet Safety: What Every Parent Should Know to Protect Children from Online Predator, will be presented by Tommy Loftis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Loftis presented a similar program to a small crowd of attendees at the Demopolis Police Department in July.

“He will be discussing all the issues surrounding social media as well as the cell phones and the dangers they pose,” Clark wrote in the informational flier being sent home to parents. “He will cover ‘sexting,’ taking and sending nude photos with cell phones, the dangers of posting too much personal information on the web, how sexual predators can use the personal information to track you, bullying and using social media to bully, and many more topics. He will also discuss how juveniles can be charged and arrested for taking part in some of these topics.”

“When a sexual predator is arrested, what they are telling us is that Facebook is like hunting over a baited field,” Loftis told those in attendance at the July session.

Demopolis High School will present its program Monday, Jan. 9 for students at the high school. Demopolis Middle School will hold two programs for grades 6-8 on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

There will be a parent only program Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Demopolis High School Auditorium.

“It’s very important for them to be aware that these predators are out there and seeking their kids,” Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese said, pointing to his hope that local parents would seek more education and information on such topics. “The internet is a helpful tool, but parents have to take a more active approach.”

In 2011, the Demopolis Police Department arrested eight individuals on 30 cases of transmitting obscene material to children.