Sheryl Sprague, Rushfordprevention manager, said a grant from Naugatuck Bank has funded future talks about youth issues such as underage drinking, depression and suicide prevention. Those programs will begin in January, Sprague said. She was pleased with theturnout Wednesday: more than 130 students, teachers and parents. Sprague said some teachers came with members of their classes. “They’re going to go back and incorporate it into their classes,” she said.
The talks are designed to encouragedialogue between children and adults, according to Sprague. “We’re very, very pleased to have so many student here and their teachers and parents,” she said. “We do this intentionally so adults and young people can attend together and go home and have conversations.” “We hope this isn’t a onetime shot,” Sprague said.
Driscoll cautioned children and parents about the ease with which predators can piece together personal information based on what is available online, particularly on social networking sites. “We share too many pictures, we do too many things,” he said.
Driscoll impersonated adolescent children online for four years as part of the task force to catch predators, and said social networking sites were described as “a dream come true” by one predator. Brenda Dunn, a parent of Maloney High School and Thomas Edison Middle School students, said the talk Wednesday contained good reminders for her family, primarily the need for her to keep control over her children’s Internet usage.
“You need to let your child know who’s the boss in the house,” she said. Dunn said adults, too, need to be reminded about Internet safety. “You have grown people who need to take heed of that,” she said.
Barbara Haeffner, the Meriden school system’s supervisor of instructional technology, said the schools take cyber bullying and Internet dangers seriously. “Cyber bullying is being addressed,” she said. “Making people aware of what’s happening online is very important.”
Dunn’s daughter, Mariah Dunn, said she heard a similar talk at Thomas Edison, which she attends. After Wednesday’s talk, she said she’d review the privacy settings on her Facebook account.
For more information on Rushford prevention programs, please contact Sheryl Sprage, Prevention Manager, at 203-630-5357 or visit www.rushford.org.