Cyber safety cop informs students of online dangers

Sasha Kvitsinski, Entertainment Editor

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On Nov. 16 during 3rd period, LBHS held an informative talk in the Artists Theatre regarding the threats of the cyber world. Half of the school listened in person to Sergeant Clay Cransford speak about the importance of cyber safety while the other half watched on classroom televisions.  

“Sergeant Cransford focuses on ‘cyber behavior.’ The term ‘bullying’ has been overused, so he talks about it from the standpoint of behaviorwhat is acceptable and what is not. He talks about the potential for things ‘boomeranging’ back to you in later years,” said assistant principal Mr. Billinger.

Sergeant Cransford is an Orange County Sheriff who refers to himself as the “cyber safety cop.” His specialty lies in dealing with the dangers of social media and cyber safety and making sure people can properly identify problems as they arise.

“I became a ‘cyber cop’ when I was a School Resource Officer, and I had many students who were getting hurt on social media. I wanted to give them good guidelines before they got into trouble. I also wanted to educate parents so they could better protect their children online,” said Cransford.

This is not his first time speaking at the Laguna Beach Unified School District, and this was not his first talk about cyber safety, either. Last year, he spoke to parents at the middle school and told them what to look out for in order to keep their children safe online. Cransford has worked in law enforcement for more than 13 years.

“I think it’s important to talk about this subject because now as a young student, you have a digital footprint. It’s important that when people post something online, they understand that that can come back to haunt you later in lifeeverything is kept on the web,” said superintendent of schools Dr. Jason Viloria.

According to nytimes.com, young people today are “the first true digital natives.”

Whether going online to talk to a friend, to post a picture or to contact someone, everyone is susceptible to possible danger.

“When I worked back in San Diego, we actually caught a couple of kids doing something against the rules because they had posted something online, someone took a screenshot of it, and we ended up tracing it back to them,” said Viloria.

According to npr.org, “if you think you’re anonymous online, think again.”  Google stores all of a user’s web history since the first day that individual opened a computer. Many can also track users’ activities through their IP addresses.

“This affects virtually everybody. Everybody has some posting that happens online and they have some interaction, and that creates stress. The need for this talk was spawned from an accumulation of events. With almost every problem that we have between students, something is always posted, or someone said something the others didn’t like on social media,” said principal Chris Herzfeld.

The internet has become so influential that it seems everyone has some sort of connection to it. This reliance on the internet is what brings many experts to worry and why they believe it is so important for children to become educated about these matters.

“Students being bullied online very often begin to believe what they see online,which often results in emotional struggles. People begin to doubt themselves, saying, ‘is this really true?’” said Billinger.

There is a new movement against cyber violence. Slogans like “you define you, not the internet” have been posted across the web. People and groups have made it their goal to make sure that teenagers everywhere have ways to develop resilience and cope with anything that they might be going through.

In any situation in which you feel like you or one of your friends is being harassed, make sure you find a trusted adult on campus and tell them,” said Herzfeld.

A trusted adult can include a coach, a teacher or anyone else that works on campus.

Our school has multiple resources. The “text-a-tip” program allows students to text the administration if they see anyone doing something dangerous or offensive, online or offline.

The school intends to invite experts such as Sergeant Cransford to speak about pressing matters that pertain to teenagers’ immediate lives.  The common goal is to guide students to make wise personal decisions.

“Everything you do online matters. You have an amazing opportunity with social media. You can create a positive online reputation that will make you shine to colleges and future employers. Think twice before you hit the send button. Once you put an image or a post out there, you can’t always get it back. The consequences for making a bad mistake online can have a life long impact on your choices. Be safe,” said Cransford.

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