Students educated on protection from online predators

U.S. Attorney's Office discussed social media, cyberbullying, and online predators with the students

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Parents and students at Mater Dolorosa School in Holyoke learned a lesson in online safety Wednesday night from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Federal officials joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in offering two presentations to students and parents about issues including cyber bullying, social media, sexting and internet predators.

More than 250 seventh and eighth grade students from Mater Dolorosa, and other area Catholic schools, attended the first presentation Wednesday afternoon. The students filled out an anonymous survey about their online activities prior to the presentation, allowing the U.S. Attorney’s Office to tailor the discussion to students’ needs.

Many of these students spent at least three hours a day on the internet. They told 22News, they got the message to be alert and cautious. “I tend to be very careful online, because my parents do stress that the Internet is an open place. Anything can happen anything can be posted, anything can be found,” eighth grader Stephen Gibbons said.

The Mater Dolorosa School Principal Linda Rex said, “It’s so easy for our students and our children to get pulled into different situations on the media that they may not be anticipating and we certainly don’t want them to be prey for predators out there who may want to trick them or cause them harm.”

Principal Rex said part of the problem is that the parents didn’t grow up with this type of technology, so they don’t always know what’s going on behind a computer screen.