BERNE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany County Sheriff’s Office has chosen two school districts to take part in a pilot cyber safety program.
Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk and Berne-Knox-Westerlo were chosen for the program.
There’s a range of threats facing schools today, and one of them is something all students have access to—the internet. School resource officers from both districts were trained to implement Cyber S.W.A.T., or Safety While Accessing Technology. It’s an internet safety program through the National White Collar Crime Center and Community Oriented Policing Services.
Students are spending more time on the web in class and at home, but School Resource Officer Deputy Nathanial Bray prides himself on making face-to-face contact.
“We’re very proud to see our kids grow up and then be successful and positive members of our community,” he said. “We’re not just standing in front of a class and telling kids to don’t talk to strangers and be safe online. What we’re doing with this program is we’re giving the kids the tools and knowledge to teach themselves these skills and then teach their classmates.”
Deputy Bray underwent training and will in-turn train students to become peer mentors, which Secondary School Principal Dr. Mark Pitterson says is the most important part.
“They have gotten so used to hearing the grownups telling time what to do and what not to do when kids teach each other they learn better,” he said.
He says the vast majority of the bullying incidents at the school have a cyber element, but the program also covers hacking, phishing, and online predators.
“Pedophiles that are trying to lure in that young girl or boy, get them to meet them in a desolate location, and then you may never see that person again,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.
Apple says the program will also address how cyber bullying can cause depression and lead to teen suicide.
“We’re hoping that the teens will see this, they’ll heed the message, and stop the cyber bullying or not become a victim of the cyber bullying,” said Sheriff Apple.
Deputy Bray wants the main takeaway for students to be this: “Think before you post. What is going to be the impact that your post is going to have on others.”
The deputies just recently completed their training, and now they’re putting out the call for students who want to become peer mentors.