Schools to provide internet and cell phone safety instruction

On Wed. April 11, the House voted favorably a bill that will provide Internet and cell phone safety instruction in public schools.

Rep. Valarie Hodges said, “There are already some laws in the books that say beginning in third grade you have to provide instruction regarding child Internet safety. This bill would not only provide Internet safety but cell phone safety.”

Hodges said she was horrified after hearing stories about cell phone and Internet usage. “There are a lot of things we do not know about. This will help prevent the abuse,” Hodges said.

Toby Aguillard, sex offender supervisor said, “Every single time a Tangipahoa detective gets on the Internet pretending to be one of our children, that detective will be sexually solicited by a predator within 30 minutes. We have never had a day where that did not happen.”

Safety instruction will be integrated into an existing course of study and will provide information regarding cell phone and Internet use.

“There was a child in Desoto Parrish a few months ago who was contacted by a predator on Facebook, the social networking site, that predator was disguising himself  as a 12-year-old girl. After three weeks of conversation the 12-year-old boy decided to meet the ‘12-year-old girl’. Unfortunately for the boy the ‘12-year-old girl’, who was a registered sex offender, got him into a cab, took him away, raped and murdered him. That’s something we do not want to see happen in our state ever again,” Aguillard said.

The instruction will cover risks of transmitting personal information, recognizing, avoiding and reporting electronic solicitations by sexual predators, illegal activities and communications, harassment and cyberbullying and unsolicited or deceptive communications.

Aguillard said, “This is a problem that is not going away. Our children today are the keyboard kids. They are growing up with a keyboard in their hands, many without guidance. It is important that we address the educational part to help our kids better themselves and to be more prepared for what they’re going to face when using their phones, computers or other electronic devices.”

The bill is currently pending house final passage.

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