Internet safety a focus for ND teachers, parents | Virtual Vigilance Part 3
BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - North Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Agents say it’s important to educate yourself and your kids about the dangers online. The FBI says one in seven kids are contacted by an online predator, but, due to underreporting, that number could be even higher.
That’s why teachers like Stacy Olson, library media specialist at Rita Murphy Elementary, work with kids from kindergarten to high school on online safety.
“Just like we taught stranger danger back in the day, it’s really just a modern-day stranger danger,” said Stacy Olson, library media specialist at Rita Murphy Elementary.
Kids are often taught which online platforms they can or can’t use.
“YouTube and social media,” said Kleigha Guthmiller, first grader.
“My parents don’t let me,” said Jude Beckman, first grader.
“Setting boundaries is a good idea, setting time limits, knowing what your kids are on, even having them being in the same room. Because sometimes you might hear something that you think, ‘oh that’s not quite right,’ that kids might not pick up on,” said Olson.
Parents say the conversation on online safety has evolved over the years.
“Making sure she is safe on social media, on the internet, has been a major priority of ours,” said Tricia Brown, parent.
Kids of all ages have a lot of questions and some of the answers.
“I can’t use TikTok or Snapchat,” said Karisma Brown, fourth grader.
“Do you know why you can’t use those two platforms?” Your News Leader asked.
“I’m not really sure. I know there’s some inappropriate things on TikTok,” said Karisma Brown.
Karisma says she’s talked about online safety with her mom.
“I don’t want her to feel I don’t trust her. And so that’s been the new navigation as far as being open. We have these conversations and I ask questions, trying not to condemn or lecture,” said Tricia Brown.
Task force agents who investigate predators that target children say crimes happen on whichever internet platforms kids are using. The platforms change frequently.
“We have to try and understand the system and what can be sent, what can’t be sent, the data that we can get back from that system to try and locate the perpetrator, things like that,” said Chief Agent Steven Harstad with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
As tips pour in from service providers, agents say they’re able to catch a lot of the perpetrators. Still, they say, as your kids learn the ins and outs of using the internet, pay attention, be involved, and have good communication.
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program and 61 Task Forces across the country work to provide investigative assistance to parents, educators, and prosecutors to catch criminals and prevent these types of crimes. For more information, visit: ICAC - Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (icactaskforce.org).
Virtual Vigilance Part 1: CyberTips for internet crimes against children up 500% in ND in past six years
Virtual Vigilance Part 2: More children abused and extorted online receive help from victim advocates in ND
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