State AG’s Office Presents On Cyberbullying

Elayne Gooding, a specialist from the CyberCrime Unit of the Florida Attorney General’s Office presented to students and faculty about safe internet practices and responsible digital citizenship. The assembly, held the morning of September 23 in The Barker Performing Arts Center, aimed to educate students and faculty about cyber safety. 

According to the State Attorney General’s Office, 50 percent of teens will be victims of cyberbullying and 20 percent will be sexually solicited online. Last year, 160,000 students missed at least one day of school due to cyberbullying. 

Gooding emphasized the long-term effects that cyberbullying can have on victims including low self-esteem, long term psychological issues, social anxiety, and depression. Words, according to Gooding, have the power to fester. She also highlighted the consequences that those perpetrating the bullying may face up to and including criminal charges and employment and scholarship limitations.

Gooding stressed a four-step method called “Think - Ask - Notify - Report.” Students were encouraged to think about what they post, ask the bully to stop in the event of cyber harassment, notify a trusted adult, and report the bullying to proper authorities. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help, support each other,” said Gooding. 

She encouraged students to manage their online presence, digital footprint, and to consider what information they share online.

“We encourage parents to sit down and talk with your child(ren) on Monday evening about this important topic and about what they learned. Asking them about the presentation will give you an opportunity to start a meaningful dialogue about this critically important subject,” said Director of Student Services Susan Poncy. 

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