We are disheartened to report that the cyber safety presentation offered by the Sag Harbor School District last week was very poorly attended. Just half a dozen people or so turned out for the program, which the PTSA organized in an attempt to educate parents on issues specifically related to cyber predators.
Which is too bad, because the expert had some scary statistics to offer, including those from a recent survey, which says one in five minors were sexually solicited online over a one-year period. Also discussed was the preferred method of cyber sex offenders who use the Internet to groom and entice children for victimization.
Parents were also offered tips for keeping their kids safe online — including having access to all their social media accounts — and recommended blocking software to keep kids off potentially dangerous sites.
But this is not an issue that is going away. Yes, cyber predation is a scary possibility, but there are other things going on closer to home in this digital age that can make children a victim. Bullying texts, sexting, hacking or posting of embarrassing photos are some forms of online behavior that can irreparably damage a teenager’s reputation and self-esteem.
Which is why we encourage the PTSA to continue the discussion — and we encourage every parent to make an effort to attend future programs like this.
This issue isn’t going away any time soon — the Internet will be a constant presence and battle for parents who are trying to keep their children safe for years to come.