Port Chester Middle School puts its focus on Internet safety on Tuesday, with an expert offering advice to children - and adults.
Retired New York City Police officer Thomas Grimes is set to speak with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at the Middle School at 8:30 a.m., 9:15 a.m. and 10 a.m. Principal Patrick Swift said parents are invited to attend the disucsions.
Grimes, a graduate of Somers High School, is a frequent speaker at schools in the Westchester area about issues including online predators, identity theft, cyber bullying and educating young people about the dangers of posting inappropriate text, photos and videos online.
At one of his presentations, Grimes told parents the Internet and social networking can be wonderful tools but they must be used wisely and their children probably do not understand how to do that and it can put them at risk.
“The best thing we can do is teach our kids what the pitfalls are,” he explained during an Internet Awareness presentation. “What your kid posts at 15, it is going be searchable when they are 25, 35. Our kids are making mistakes for the whole world to see."
Grimes advises parents to be their child’s “friend” on Facebook and see what they are posting online. Parents should look at their child’s “friend” list and find out how many are actually known and not claiming to a friend of a friend. When children are young, they are told not to talk to strangers, however with social networking the warning does not always get followed.
Find out their reasons for going online and visiting social networking sites such as “Twitter,” “Friendster,” “Omegle,” “Chatroulette,” “MySpace,” and “FormSpring.” Be alert to any changes in behavior and online usage.
"We need to raise our awareness. It’s up to us as parents to know what our kids are doing,” he said. “Google your name, your kids’ names."
Grimes' presentations have detailed incidents of Cyber Bullying, sexual assault, Cyber stalking, textual harassment, sexting and other acts of violence across the country that took place because the criminals were opportunists targeting kids who can share too much information online or get drawn into relationships not knowing who the other person actually is.