Fifth graders from area parochial schools attended the Upper Darby Police Department’s Anti-bullying Day program at Bonner Prendie High School last week with an emphasis on cyber-bullying.
Students from St. Andrew, St. Bernadette, and St. Dorothy schools in Drexel Hill, St. Eugene in Secane, Holy Cross in Springfield and St. Cyril in East Lansdowne heard about the consequences of cyber-bullying in the auditorium before heading to the athletic field for track and field games, team building and an opportunity to tour fire trucks and the Delco Emergency Service Mobile Command Unit.
Delco Detective Nathaniel Evans, an analyst with the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, was the guest speaker informing the 10 and 11 year-old students of their responsibilities when on-line or posting pictures.
“Cyber-bullying matters,” Evans said, “only one in 10 children report to their parents that they have been bullied. And only one in five incidents of cyber-bullying get reported to law enforcement. Cyber harassment of a child by a child is a third degree misdemeanor.”
“What can you do if you are cyber-bullied? Do not respond to harassing messages, save the evidence and set up a new account,” Evans advised.
According to Evans, anything involving child exploitation in Pennsylvania comes to his desk including cyber-bullying and explicit pictures.
“The golden rule of internet use is to think before you post because once it’s on there, it’s there forever,” Evans said. “You can’t take it back.”
Evans warned students of the dangers of posting inappropriate pictures or racist comments on-line.
“In Pennsylvania it is against the law for someone under age 18 to send inappropriate pictures,” Evans said. “I’ve been told kids have not been accepted at colleges because of what was posted. Colleges will check your on-line life and see your profiles. It’s a crime for minors (ages 12 to 17) to create, possess or send explicit images of other minors. Violators forfeit their phone and don’t get it back.”
Evans advised students to provide their parents with access information to their profiles or email accounts including user name and password in the event they go missing. He also advised students to report blackmail or cyber harassment at www.cybertipline.com.
At the conclusion of the program, students toured fire trucks and the mobile command center before going onto the field for games and team building.
“This program helps,” Helen McLean, principal of St. Andrew’s, said. “It also gives the kids a chance to meet kids from other schools and team building. The kids look forward to it.”
When students arrived they were given different colored wrist bands to separate them from their classmates and team up with students from other schools.
Marcus Solomon, 11, of Upper Darby, attending St. Andrew’s, liked the program and said if he witnessed bullying he would tell a teacher or “just get in there and stop it.”
“It was pretty good program,” Solomon said of the cyber-bullying information. “Now I’m afraid of the Internet because you never know what’s out there. I learned to think before you post.”
Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, Upper Darby Mayor Thomas Micozzie and state Rep. Jamie Santora (R-163) welcomed the students.
“All Catholic schools today experience the same things other schools do,” Micozzie said. “It’s important we come together and learn and have fun. We want to make sure you’re safe and your friends are safe.”
Santora told the students to listen to the information because it will be helpful.
According to Chitwood, “This is the fourth year for (the) program for kids in Catholic schools. “Throughout the school year we have 33 police officers mentoring fifth graders in classrooms in the public and Catholic schools.”