Renee DeLuke from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was a guest at the Clifford Wise Middle School in Medina.
Mrs. DeLuke met with each grade separately, along with Principal Elaine Wendt, and talked to the students about how to protect themselves from predators. “She geared each of her talks to the grade level that was in the auditorium and described scenarios that the students might find themselves in,” says Mrs. Wendt. “I think it is very important to tell the students how crucial it is to protect their identity and to keep themselves safe in this day of social media.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was established in 1984 as a clearinghouse and resource center for information about missing and exploited children. In 2015, 460,699 children were reported missing and more than 143,000 notifications have been made to electronic service providers regarding publicly accessible websites (URLs) on which suspected child sexual abuse images appeared.
Mrs. DeLuke asked the students if they had ever Googled their names and to think about how everything they put out on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other social media tells a lot about them. She encouraged them to check their privacy settings and to change their passwords periodically and make sure they have different passwords for each account. She also told them to be careful about who they are talking about online. “If you do get into a situation with talking or sharing something with someone you are not comfortable with, tell an adult you trust, block the person you have been communicating with and whatever you do, don’t meet them.”
She went over behavior that should be a red flag if they are talking to someone like: receiving gifts, being asked you to share secrets, isolating you from family and friends and ask you to share images of yourself. She showed movies about what could happen if students were not mindful of their behavior and the consequences that could result from that. She also showed alternative versions of the same scenario with children making smarter choices.
Clifford Wise Middle School brings in a speaker from the center each year. “We are very grateful for taking the time out to come and talk to our students so that we can help to keep them safe,” says Mrs. Wendt.