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SBL Healthy Kids Program Provides Cyber Safety Videos to Area Schools

October 1, 2020 10:46 a.m.

Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Healthy Kids Program is excited to provide eight area schools with a series of videos that are designed to help keep students safe online.

The Cyber Safe Schools Video Series, which includes videos that are specially tailored for faculty, parents and students and a student worksheet with an answer key for teachers, were recently sent to Charleston High School and Middle School; Mattoon High School and Middle School; Shelbyville High School and Moulton Middle School; and Sullivan High School and Middle School. The video series is funded by a $4,000 grant from WomenConnected, a philanthropic giving circle within the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation.

“We are very excited to empower the schools in our area with these training videos because it could actually save a life,” SBL Healthy Communities Director Laura Bollan said. “These videos can be assigned as homework, viewed in the classroom or used as a vital resource for students who may be suffering in silence as a result of cyber-bullying or sextortion.” The resources also include a quiz, which can be given to students to ensure they have watched and understand the presentations.

For the past two years, the SBL Healthy Kids Program has hosted school assemblies with retired detective and child cyber-crime expert Richard Wistocki in response to recent Illinois Youth Survey results that list depression and suicide as the top concern for area teens. “We know that a lot of teen suicides come about because of things like cyber bullying and Det. Wistocki does a great job of teaching kids what to look for and how to report online threats,” Bollan said. Following previous presentations, one or more students have come forward to ask for help due to cyber bullying. 

With school assemblies not possible this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bollan was thrilled when she learned that Wistocki had just completed a cyber safety video series for students, parents, faculty and school administration. “I feel like we’re going to reach so many more people this way and not just students. Parents and faculty can watch the videos anytime on their phones, tablets or computers,” she added.

In his talks, Wistocki emphasizes parents should never accept their kids’ assurances that they are not being bullied online, and they should encourage children to share any missteps they make on the internet. He says child predators live on all sorts of social apps and video game chat rooms. Wistocki estimates about 50 percent of boys and girls ages 12 to 15 have sent or received naked or partially naked photos of themselves, which predators use to manipulate children by threatening to expose them in a public forum.

For parents, the video series outlines best practices and proactive measures families can take to keep children on the right path and protect their online identity. For faculty, the videos instruct teachers how to respond when a child discloses sexual abuse, sextortion and cyber-bullying incidents.

The video series includes nearly six hours of content divided into short five to 15-minute videos. Topics include: cyber-bullying, no one online is anonymous, how to report cyber-crime, posting photos to Instagram and Snap Chat, dangers of file sharing, how internet investigation are conducted, safe and unsafe phone applications, sexting and sextortion, gaming online, teen dating and online relationships, internet predators, how to handle “leakage” when students disclose, potentially harmful or violent tendencies, monitoring options for parents, how internet investigations are conducted, cyber-crime and mandated reporting, the dangers of vaping and much more.

For more information, contact SBL Healthy Communities at 217-345-6828.

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