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High-tech society poses dangers for kids

Oswego cyber bullYing forum

The Oswego School District, Oswego Police Department and the Kendall County state’s attorney’s office are sponsoring a program for parents about cyber bullying next week.

All parents are invited to the free program, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at Oswego East High School, 1525 Harvey Road, Oswego.

Superintendent Dan O’Donnell noted that half of the 17,000 students in the Oswego School District are girls — the gender most likely to be the target of cyber bullying.

“Please join me in helping protect our daughters, as well as our sons, from being bullied online,” O’Donnell said.

Visit oswego308.org.

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



The first things Internet Safety Specialist Sarah Migas shared with the group of interested parents at Washington Middle School was that her title is old.

Migas is with the Illinois attorney general’s office, and her job is about much more than computers now. She has to protect children on all forms of technology, she said. Seventy-five percent of kids ages 12 to 17 have a cell phone, according to a survey displayed by Migas.

“What this has to be about is intentional parenting,” she said. “You have to establish rules and limits.”

The digital age is here to stay. Computers, cell phones and other mobile devices are part of everyday life. For as convenient as they are, there are risk factors that need to be addressed with children. And that is why Migas came to speak with parents last week at Washington’s parent education night.

With the mobile nature of the Internet, parents need to be more attentive to what their children are doing. She used to tell parents to keep the computer in a central spot where they will be able to see what is going on.

It’s still good advice, but it’s only part of the solution now, she said. Parents need to be monitoring cell phones and any other device their children might be using.

“We have to be more intentional about checking it now because it’s not going to pop up in front of our face,” she said.

Parents should be monitoring texts and phone calls on cell phones and searching through Facebook and other social networking profiles, she said. Migas showed the results of a recent 4,200-student survey. The survey showed that 24 percent of students in grades 3 through 12 had been texted inappropriate photos.

Parents need to emphasize to their children not to forward that picture on, and to be a voice to make it stop, she said.

Migas specifically addressed the issue of Facebook. The web site requires that people be 13 years old to set up their own page, but has no way to enforce it.

“You don’t have to tell the truth, and that’s what makes some of these things dangerous for kids,” she said.

Parents should try to help their children think critically about their Facebook page, she said.

“They should ask their kids ‘How do you make a decision whether to accept this person or deny them?’”

Migas talked with parents about the permanence of anything posted on the Internet. Even once it’s deleted, people may have saved something, she said.

“A diary is the appropriate place for secrets. Technology is not,” she said.

Work with the school

In addition to the Internet talk, there was also a session on school bullying, led by Barbara Goy and Peter Faulkner from Breaking Free in Aurora. They discussed the different types of bullying and gave suggestions to parents about how to address the issue with their children.

With cyber bullying, children don’t get any break from things at home, Faulkner pointed out.

“It’s nearly impossible to escape this,” he said.

You don’t want to encourage children to fight back, Goy said. You also don’t want to talk with the bully’s parents. Instead you want to work with the school.

“You want to try and work together with them, instead of blaming them for not stopping it,” she said.

Leah Rifkin, parent of a seventh-grader at Washington, said the forum was extremely helpful.

“I did learn a few things about bullying and how to protect my child,” she said.

Parent Teacher Association President Chrissy Poppen said bullying was an important subject for parents of children in this age group to address.

“Bullying is harder at times to identify,” she said. “It’s a lot more prevalent than you think.”

Oswego cyber bullYing forum

The Oswego School District, Oswego Police Department and the Kendall County state’s attorney’s office are sponsoring a program for parents about cyber bullying next week.

All parents are invited to the free program, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at Oswego East High School, 1525 Harvey Road, Oswego.

Superintendent Dan O’Donnell noted that half of the 17,000 students in the Oswego School District are girls — the gender most likely to be the target of cyber bullying.

“Please join me in helping protect our daughters, as well as our sons, from being bullied online,” O’Donnell said.

Visit oswego308.org.



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