SF district attorney talks to kids about cyberbullying

January 18, 2013 5:48:05 PM PST
San Francisco public school students all received a new and very practical lesson Friday -- how to be good internet citizens. Some students got a visit from the district attorney himself to reinforce the message.

Cyberbullying is not cool. It's also a misdemeanor. And according to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, it's a growing problem.

"About 56 percent of our young people are reporting that they're the victims of cyberbullying," Gascon said. "As a matter of fact, there's a young man in that classroom who had a friend who committed suicide because he was being bullied."

The Child Internet Protection Act requires public schools to educate students how to be safe on the internet.

San Francisco found a one-stop resource for doing that in CommonSenseMedia.org, a non-profit devoted to helping families safely navigate the world of media and technology.

The district is using K-12 lesson plans developed by Common Sense Media. All of the district's students got a lesson like this one at Aptos Middle School.

"It's not, don't do this don't do that," said Merve Lapu with Common Sense Media. "It's, here are some great opportunities, here are some potential perils, how do you think critically about what you're going to do when you use media and technology."

Student Andre Gonzalez adds, "I love the internet, it's fun."

The 13-year-old Aptos Middle School 7th grader says sometimes he's not sure if what he's seeing online is acceptable teasing or bullying. And he's online a lot.

"The main way I connect with my friends is Facebook, Instagram, and PlayStation when I play my friends," Gonzalez said. When asked if his parents know what's going on on the internet he answered, "Sometimes, not really."

Assistant superintendent Kevin Truitt says teaching the kids directly is especially important when they are so internet savvy, "I know when I was a principal, even if I couldn't get through my own school's firewall, I could call a couple kids that I knew could. So I'd get on someone's Facebook account and see what they were saying."

The lesson also covers issues like privacy and which information to trust online.


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