By Kathleen Nichols
With a new school year under way, criminal justice professionals are sure to receive calls from parents and school officials seeking assistance with technology misuse incidents such as cyberbullying and sexting. In responding, it is important to offer substantive advice and assistance, even though many such cases never escalate to a criminal level. Here are some tips to pass along:
- Encourage youths to report any incident of harassment, intimidation, or bullying — made face-to-face or online — to a trusted adult.
- Urge parents to monitor their child’s online activities by checking computer histories and setting parental controls.
- Implement a bullying prevention program. For ideas, visit www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov.
- Conduct an educational presentation at a local school or library on the legal and non-legal consequences of sexting.
- Consider developing a local sexting diversion program. One resource is the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office. Call 937-225-5757 to inquire about its program.
- Encourage parents to monitor their children’s cell phone use by periodically checking what they have sent from or downloaded to their phones.
- Encourage the establishment of policies to guide social media use.
- Urge attendance at professional development presentations that focus on using discretion in online posts and the do’s and don’ts of social media use.
The Attorney General’s Office provides resources and presentations on bullying, online safety, and related topics. For more information, contact Kathy Nichols at Kathleen.Nichols@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 614-995-5416.
Kathleen Nichols is a youth violence program coordinator for the Attorney General’s Office.