Internet Crimes Against Children Teaches Bluffton Students What They’re Really Sharing

BLUFFTON, Sc. (WSAV) — South Carolina’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) hosted special classes for students taking criminal justice courses at May River High School Friday.

“It’s fun, it’s exciting but the downside is a lot of young people share too much information,” Joe Ryan, with the ICAC, said to the students.

He was talking about the internet, asking the high school students if they had seen those people on Facebook that “take a picture of every piece of food they put in their mouth” or “post 50 selfies a day.”

Ryan used to be a deputy sheriff in Richland County.

“I saw how the internet was impacting kids on a daily basis and I saw how their lives were really driven by what they do online,” he said, “I wanted to prevent a lot of those things I was seeing happen in the school that I was in, and a lot of the drama and the fights and the rumors, and all of those things that started online and found their ways into the school.” 

Now, he travels South Carolina, teaching kids about internet safety as part of the attorney general’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force.

“The biggest goal is to prevent any child in the state of South Carolina from becoming a victim of an online predator.”

The class lasts about an hour and a half, and teachers students everything from sexting laws to GPS locations encrypted in their pictures.

“When you post that picture and you’re wearing that shirt that says what school you go to,” he told the students, “The fact is, whoever sees that pictures now knows this is where you go to school which means they now know where you’re gonna be every Monday through Friday.” 

Bradford Wilson is the Criminal Justice teacher at May River High School who brought the ICAC to talk to his students.

“I think back to when I was a kid, you know stranger danger stranger danger, well nobody’s gonna go up and talk to a stranger or take candy from a stranger but these kids do that every single day unknowingly… they give out their personal information,” Wilson said.

Cheyenne Kirkpatrick is a freshman at May River High School and said, “I’m a very social person online, and I talk to most of my friends online because I used to live across country.” But after today’s lesson she plan to make a few adjustments. “Now I’m gonna be a lot more safer and a lot more aware of what I send and who I send them to.”

Ryan says he hopes that every student walks away from the class with similar thoughts, and knowing what they can do if they do feel they are being targeted online.

“Which is talking to an adult. Saving any kind of evidence that they have in that conversation and mainly not being afraid to talk to somebody,” he said.

If you or your child feel they have been or are a victim of an online predator, report it to the Cybertipline run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Ryan says they will then contact their local offices to further investigate. 

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