Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Help Others Learn to Be Safe on the Internet

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Help Others Learn to Be Safe on the Internet

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

When sixth-grader Katlyn Hatfield sees young people giving out personal information online or behaving badly in chat rooms, she quickly jumps into action.

She tells her teachers, or her parents.

Through an Internet safety curriculum at her school, Charles E. Bennett Elementary, she and her classmates have learned the dangers of online predators and the need for manners in chat rooms.

And they are beginning to share their newfound knowledge.

"I don't want kids online with bad grown-ups," Katlyn said. On Wednesday, Katlyn and other Bennett students from teacher Stan Harris' computer resources class gave presentations on Internet safety to a small group of community leaders. What spurred them to action, the students said, was the curriculum from i-Safe Inc., a non-profit foundation that incorporates classroom learning with community outreach to empower students, teachers, parents and law enforcement to make the Internet safer.

As they have learned the rules of Internet safety, the Bennett students repeated them to their parents, siblings, friends and anyone else willing to listen. Some people, they said, are more receptive than others.

"Some of them still think it's silly or that there is nothing they can do," said sixth-grader Darlene Phillips.

But the leaders who heard their message Wednesday - Clay County Attorney Mark Scruby, Green Cove Springs Mayor Debbie Ricks, Clay County Sheriff's Detective Bruce Owen and Clay County schools Chief Information Officer Tom Moore - encouraged them to continue.

"The best kind of leadership is when you model ideas or values ... That's what you're doing, just being involved in this and living it," said Scruby, who has three teenagers of his own. "I think it's outstanding."

Ricks said she is already concerned about computer safety for her 4-year-old grandchild.

"This is great information. You need to get it out there," she said. "When you believe in something strongly enough, talk about it."

Founded in 1998, i-Safe educates kindergarteners through twelfth-graders how to avoid dangerous, inappropriate or unlawful online behavior. …

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