In this digital world, everyone is connected through some type of social media platform or app. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat are some of the more common ones but there is also communication through YouTube, Discord, Twitch, Tumbler and Reddit. Then there is also WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Pinterest and now BeReal. Parents are often warned of the dangers of social media by peers, teachers, the internet and basically anyone with an opinion but why should parents be afraid? What dangers exactly are out there? What can your children get into without knowing?
Keeping students safe, both in school and online, is a big priority for the Niangua R-V school district.
“The school board, Maddie Arthur (Cantrell) in particular, as well as it was a unanimous vote,…wanted to do something to make sure that we are addressing online safety and student safety…” shared Josh Hume, Superintendent of Niangua Schools and host of the Be Alert Parent Program being held on December 8 at Niangua R-V schools.
“I was fortunate enough before COVID to get to see this presentation put on at a conference…it’s put on by Mr. Russ Tuttle. He comes from the ‘Stop Human Trafficking Project’….his presentation actually, when they go to prevent that (human trafficking), what they find is that although it does happen-it’s not so often that you’re at Walmart and someone snags your kid in a white van…and you never see them again, there are so many factors (that happen) prior…it’s incredibly eye-opening,” shared Hume.
The presentation will be given first to adults on December 8 at the Niangua School. The presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is approximately 90 minutes long.
“My FCCLA and child development class will have a movie night to watch the kids. That way parents can’t say, ‘well we can’t come because someone has to watch the kids.’ The kids will be in the elementary gym, we will try and make them popcorn...we won’t turn anybody away but we are asking if you drop your kid off that you do come to the presentation,” laughed Hume. There is no fee to attend the presentation and there is no fee for the provided childcare.
Just a few of the topics covered in the adult presentation will include: why students need trusted adults, social media, sexting, pornography, loneliness, isolation and depression.
“When we think about kids today, it’s a different world than we grew up in. Unfortunately, their worlds are online,” reflected Hume.
Niangua students will receive a similar presentation during the school day on Friday. Each presentation will be geared toward the appropriateness of the age level.
“We do the adult presentations first. Hopefully that way the parents can get the kids kind of in the right mindset and when their kid comes home on Friday, they know what they are talking about,” explained Hume of the presentation schedule.
The presentation is covered by funds left over from the previous school year that is earmarked toward community outreach and is welcome to anyone in the surrounding area.
“I would argue, that if nothing else, is the value of being a trusted adult. That’s why it’s so important that we don’t just get parents to show up because a lot of the time when kids need someone to talk to it isn’t their mom or dad-it might be their mom or dad they are mad at. They need that church clergy member, that firefighter, that grandma or grandpa-they need that trusted adult,” shared Hume. “It’s not just for parents, it’s for everybody. Seymour, Marshfield, Conway-anyone who works with young people or has exposure to young people-that’s who it’s for.”
“It’s talking about that balance…how am I going to limit your online exposure. If I can’t keep you out of the rain, then I’m going to at least give you an umbrella,” reflected Hume.
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