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Protect Your Children Online                                             

By: Sherri Bevan Walsh,
Summit County Prosecutor

Make sure your child’s MySpace is a safe place!

In today’s world, children and teens are often more adept at using the computer than their parents. However, the Internet poses a lot of risks to our youth, which is why parents need to learn about Internet safety to protect their family.

The Internet is a great resource. But it also exposes your children to sexually explicit material, predators, violent and offensive material, cyber bullying, and illegal activities.

- There are steps you can take as a parent to help minimize these risks:
- Keep your computer in a common area.
- Establish rules for Internet use – and stick with them! Keep computer time limited and only allow your child to get online during specific times of the day.
- Supervise your child’s Internet activities.
- Don’t allow your child to erase your Internet history log – and check it regularly.

- Know the warning signs of risky behavior; switching off monitor, minimizing the screen, getting upset if their computer time is limited, spending long hours on the Internet, etc.

As your Prosecuting Attorney, I take the safety of your children as seriously as you do. My Office has partnered with Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander and Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio in developing Computer Cop, an Internet monitoring software program.

The disk is easy to use: Simply put it in your computer and run the program. There is nothing to download, nothing to install. You choose what you want to do with Computer Cop – you can scan files for objectionable words and phrases, you can review the images that have been viewed on your computer, and you can activate the “keystroke capture” feature to monitor chat programs and e-mail.

To get a copy of Computer Cop, please e-mail Melanie. We’re sorry, but the demand for the Computer Cop CD has been so great that we have to limit them to Summit County residents. We will keep your name in the file, however, should we be able to refer your request to someone in your county. Thank you for your understanding.

 

 

Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh believes in educating our youth on not only how to protect themselves from becoming a victim of a crime, but also in preventing them from committing crimes. A number of initiatives are available to schools that we hope our community will take advantage of:

The dangers of Sexting: The judicial system does not consider not knowing the law a legal defense. Contact our office to have a prosecutor speak to your students about the dangers of Sexting.

A Message from the Prosecutor

We’ve all seen them: teens furiously typing out cryptic messages on cell phones. It seems texting is the new mode of communication among teens and pre-teens. But there is a shocking phenomenon becoming more common with teens called “sexting.”

Sexting is the act of sending or receiving nude or partially nude photos via cell phone text messages, and it has the potential to be a very serious crime. Surprisingly, it is quite common among youth – especially high school students – who frequently dismiss the act as “harmless flirting.” It’s not just those in high school who are involved: kids as young as 11 and 12 have been discovered taking risqué photos of themselves and sending them off to a boyfriend, and a few cases have recently made national news. Not only can sexting ruin reputations, it can have very serious ramifications for those who participate in it. A few cases have made national headlines where participants in sexting cases have been charged with felonies for disseminating sexually oriented material involving minors.

Sending or receiving naked images of those under the age of 18 is very serious. If caught, it can hinder a teen’s chances for college entry or for landing a job, and, more significantly, can put a teen at risk for prosecution on felony child pornography charges and force them to be registered as a sexual offender.

It is important that parents communicate with their children the serious impact this crime can have on their lives. As the statistics below illustrate, sexting among teens is surprisingly common. Teachers: If you have questions about laws concerning sexting or would like to set up an informational talk about sexting in your school, please contact my office.

Did You Know?

A recent study of teen and young adults' behavior online was conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. Here are the findings:

• 20% of teens, ages 13-19, admitted to sending/ posting nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves (22% girls and 18% boys)

• 11% of teen girls ages 13-16 admitted to sending/posting nude or semi-nude photos or video of themselves

• 51% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys said they felt pressure from the opposite sex to send nude/semi-nude photos

• 15% of teens who sent or posted nude or semi-nude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they knew only online

• Overall, 48% of teens report receiving such text images

• 44% of both teen girls and boys say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to be shared with people other than the intended recipient

Communicate to your kids the seriousness of sexting          

• Talk to your kids, even if it’s uncomfortable. It’s better that uncomfortable topics come from you than someone else.

• Talk to your kids early. Statistics show kids are engaging in this activity as young as 11 years old, and experts suggest it’s better to be proactive than reactive. Don’t wait until you find pictures to talk to your kids about sexting.

• Hear your child’s thoughts. Instead of the “don’t do this” lecture, open up the conversation. “What do you think about this?” or “have you heard about this crazy thing I heard happening with kids your age?” might be good ways to open a conversation up with your child.

• Talk to your child about privacy. In an age where people announce their “status” to everyone on the Net via social networking sites like Facebook, it’s likely privacy means something very different to your kids than it does to you. Let them know nothing is ever truly “erased” in cyber space, and that includes images on cell phones.

• Set limits if necessary. If your child must have a cell phone, opt for one without a camera or contact your cell provider and ask them to disable your child’s “send” button on the camera feature; some cellular providers can do this.

• Let them know your expectations and that you will take charges of sexting very serious should they ever engage in this illegal activity.

• Let them know what to do if they receive a text they think might contain nude photos. Tell them to immediately delete anything they find suspicious. If they do accidentally open a text that contains a nude photo, they should tell an adult immediately—a teacher or parent—and never forward it to anyone else.

• Most importantly, let them know sexting is illegal with potentially serious consequences!

 



Safety Kids Calendars: Area middle-schools are invited to draw pictures depicting the 12 Rules for Staying Safe.

Safety Kids Calendar Contest

Each fall we invite area middle school students (grades 6, 7 and 8) to participate in our annual Safety Kids Calendar contest.

Congratulations to the 2014 Safety Kids Calendar contest winners! Winning posters are featured on billboards throughout Summit County and in the pages of our Safety Kids Calendar.

The theme of the calendar is "Safety Kids - 12 Rules for Staying Safe." Keeping children safe in Summit County is a top priority.

Important Dates for Safety Kids 2015

Dates for the 2015 Safety Kids Calendar contest have not yet been announced.


If you are an educator who would like to participate in Safety Kids, please contact the Prosecutor's Office.

Safety Kids Calendar Information and Rules                       

1. Trust yourself! Don’t give in to peer pressure.
2. Don’t do drugs.
3. Don’t use alcohol.
4. Never play with guns.
5. Don’t smoke.
6. Never give out personal information in chat rooms.
7. Don’t talk to or go with anyone you don’t know.
8. Say NO to unwanted touch.
9. Never tell anyone you are home alone.
10. Say NO to gangs.
11. Stop bullies in their tracks. Always tell an adult.
12. Violence at home is never okay! Your home should be a safe place.

Registration Package
Rules for Safety Kids Participation

Posters and Billboards

2014 Poster Winners
2014 Billboards

2013 Poster Winners
2013 Billboards

2012 Poster Winners
2012 Billboards

2011 Poster Winners
2011 Billboards

2010 Poster Winners
2010 Billboards

Safety Kids Judges

A Special Thanks To:
Crystal Baker, Battered Women's Shelter

Mona Barb, Bath Police Department

Sheriff Steve Barry, Summit County

Al Brubaker, Summit County Engineer

Ronald L. Cable, Jr., Summit County Domestic Relations Court

Judge Lynne Callahan, Summit County Common Pleas Court

Dr. Sally Childs, Akron Public Schools

Chief John Conley, Silver Lake Police Department

Judge Amy Corrigall-Jones, Summit County Common Pleas Court

Pastor Duane Crabbs, South Street Ministries

Tim Crawford, Summit County Council

Rebecca DiDonato-Heimbaugh, Summit County Domestic Relations Court

Kerry DiFranco, WBNX CW-TV55

Chief Louis Dirker, Stow Police Department

John Ellis, ADM Board

Jerry Feeman, Summit County Council

Judge David Fish, Barberton Municipal Court

Linda Fuline, Summit County Educational Center

Linda Green, Retired Principal Akron Public Schools

Chief Todd Higgins, Mogadore Police Department

Mary Ann Kovach, Retired Chief Counsel, Summit County Prosecutor's Office

Judge Jerry Larson, Akron Municipal Court

Deborah Matz, Office of Summit County Executive Russ Pry

Judge Alison McCarty, Summit County Common Pleas Court

Chief Vincent Morber, Barberton Police Department

Judge Joy Oldfield, Akron Municipal Court

Katerina Papas, Summit County Children Services

Judge Thomas Parker, Summit County Common Pleas Court

John Saros, Summit County Children Services

Ilene Shapiro, Summit County Council

Jill Skapin, Office of Summit County Executive Russ Pry

Rhonda Stabler, Summit County Domestic Relations Court

Eric Stone, WBNX CW-TV55

Chris Vasco, Summit County Children Services

Captain James Weber, Akron Univeristy Police Department

Chief Mark Wentz, Northfield Police Department

Safety Kids Participating Schools

Thank You to:
Bolich Middle School
Coventry Middle School

East CLC

Emmanuel Christian Academy

Faith Islamic Academy

Dodge Intermediate School

Green Middle School

Holy Family School

Hyre CLC

Lakeview Intermediate School
Litchfield Middle School
Nordonia Middle School
Our Lady of the Elms Elementary
Redeemer Christian School
Revere Middle School
St. Barnabas School
St. Hilary School
St. Joseph School
St. Paul School

St. Vincent Elementary School

Spring Hill Junior High School

Summit Academy Akron Middle School

Tallmadge Middle School

Safety Kids Partners

A Special Thanks To:
Ohio Photo Design
Akron-Summit County Public Library

FASTSIGNS

Hudson Printing
WBNX-TV: The CW
Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry
94.9 WQMX

97.5 WONE

ClearChannel Outdoor

The End


Internet Safety: Protect your children from online predators and talk to them about safe Internet activities.

Internet Safety Information                                              

The Internet is here to stay. As parents, we cannot realistically hope to rear Internet-free kids. Instead, we must become proactive participants in our kids’ online worlds and most importantly, we must learn their language.

One of the most commonly used programs on home computers is instant messaging or “I-M’ing.” This is a program that allows your child to instantly communicate with another person by typing messages back and forth. Teens and Tweens have perfected the art of the I-M and its secret code, and younger children are catching on. If your kids are typing “PAL” as you approach the computer, know that they are not referring to their pal, instead they are short handing for “parents are listening.” A “PA” is no longer referencing a loud speaker or the state east of Ohio, but a “parent alert” and “P911” is an emergency code for “my parents are coming!” As these codes permeate the lines of communication between kids, parents must stop to wonder why these codes were created. There is only one conclusion: our kids aren’t behaving the way we want them to when they are online.

Parents everywhere have watched in horror as news programs portray online predators and the wide accessibility they have to children. These news programs commonly show the process when it involves undercover law enforcement officers posing as kids, but as the Summit County Prosecutor, I can tell you that these predators are not just connecting with law enforcement, but with local children in our area. So, while you may look over your child’s shoulder and see that they are “LOL” or “laughing our loud,” make sure they are not telling the “MOTOS” (“members of the opposite sex”) “LMIRL,” or “let’s meet in real life.”

Are you familiar with these abbreviations?

ILU.......................................I love you

IPN.......................................I'm posted naked

TAW.....................................Teachers are watching

TOY......................................Thinking of you

NIFOC..................................Naked in front of computer

WIBNI..................................Wouldn't it be nice if

WTGP...................................Want to go private?

 

While most kids will I-M with friends who are known to them, and seemingly friendly strangers, bullying happens online, too. Bullying is rampant in schools all over the community and the anonymity that an on-line chat room, or I-M’ing, provides may embolden a bully to throw his or her cyber weight around. The cyber and virtual worlds are just that for kids—virtual. They do not understand the consequences of their words when they are not face to face with their bullying victim, or the bully who has a “BEG,” a “big evil grin.” Kids begin to think they understand emotional relationships based on typing in code and engaging in “KOL,” or, “kissing on the lips” and “OLL” which is “online love.”


There has never been a more important time to make yourself a part of your child’s life, both on and off line. While the Internet is a wonderful place to learn and explore, it can also be a playground for inappropriate behavior and sadly, far worse. Make yourself become technologically savvy enough to monitor your child’s behavior online. Ask other parents what they are doing and think about installing parental controls and monitoring software. A great resource for all parents is getnetwise.org. Be up front with your kids so they know you will be checking out what they are doing and talk to them about appropriate online behavior. This can allow you to protect your child, while still giving them a feeling of independent thought. “CYO!” (See you online!)

 


Parent Education:If you would like to have Prosecutor Walsh or a designated prosecutor come to your school to talk to parents about safety subjects, such as protecting your children, Internet safety, Sexting or other topics, please contact the Prosecutor's Office.