Randall Middle School’s Resource Deputy LaRay Grooms warns parents of the dangers of the online community at a cyber safety presentation.

With the majority of middle school students using the Internet both in and out of school, it is essential that students and their parents receive information and training on how to be safe online.
Randall Middle School provided that training at a Cyber Safety workshop, taught by the school’s resource deputy, LaRay Grooms.
In a world where strangers can venture into our children’s lives, through texting, IMing, blogging, posting and more, it is important for parents to understand the technology our children use on a daily basis and protect them from predators that use that same technology to lure children into danger.
The presentation was brutally honest, offering parents a harsh look at what happens online every day. She offered a Website, www.offender.fdle.state.fl.us, where people can go to find sexual offenders in their neighborhood. A search of my own address led me to a list of 20 sexual offenders within four miles of my home, some guilty of using the Internet to solicit a child for sex and travelling to meet a minor to commit those offenses.
Grooms said another issue with today’s technology that can get kids into trouble is cyberbullying, which give kids the ability to spread rumors, innuendo, damaging personal information, and outright lies online. Cyberbullying multiples the potential damage over traditional schoolyard bullying.
To address cyberbullying, it was recommended that parents educate their children about appropriate Internet-based behaviors and dangers of attacking others online, including getting in trouble at school or with the police as well as irreparably damaging children who are the objects of ridicule. Parents should also encourage children to report cyberbullying incidents so that measures can be taken to stop the abuse and limit the psychological damage. Monitoring children’s online activities can also be done formally (through software) and informally (through participation and supervision).
“Cyberbullying gets teens in trouble and worse,” said Grooms.
Grooms said all students at the school get training on these issues, the detail based on their grade level.
FishHawk resident Shannon Derby doesn’t have a student at Randall but will next year and was planning for the future. “I have a fifth grader and I’m looking ahead at what I need to know,” she said. “The presentation was very informative.”
For more information about these issues visit www.ncpc.org.

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Michelle Caceres
MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.