A group of Lakeview Academy high school students talked to Lakeview middle schoolers Thursday morning about Internet safety.
The presentation was part of the students’ participation in "Project Safe Childhood," a U.S. Department of Justice initiative coordinated in Georgia by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Juvenile Justice Fund and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Connie White, technology chief for Lakeview, worked in the initiative.
As part of the effort, known as "e-Safe Georgia," students from Lakeview and Rockdale County schools were trained to present Internet safety videos as produced by NetSmartz, an arm of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, to middle schoolers.
Lakeview’s presentation Friday morning was the first stemming from e-Safe Georgia.
The videos addressed such topics as cyberbullying, webcams, using a blog as a personal diary, sharing passwords and social networking Web sites.
"Once you put something online, you lose control of it," said a boy in one of the videos.In another video, a girl said, "Once you post an image online, anyone can see it — family, friends, anyone."
Afterward, the high schoolers said they felt the presentation went well and that all middle school eyes and ears were on the program, which was held in the school’s Walters Athletic Center.
"I didn’t see a lot of them not paying attention," said Spencer Hughes.
Students from Lakeview and Rockdale volunteered for the project, giving up two Saturdays to learn how to present the videos. Rockdale will present the videos to its middle school students.
Lakeview high schooler Austin White said he wanted to be part of the effort "to help people."
Internet safety "is something not many people know about or think about," he said.
Bryson Wright, an eighth-grader, said the presentation was eye-opening.
"You hear about (Internet safety), but this (presentation) emphasized it a lot," Wright said.
He added that he uses the Internet mostly for school work, but if he considers other Internet uses, "I will use more precaution because of this (presentation)."
Francey Hakes, assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said that next year the high school students will go to middle school health and technology classes and train those students in "Missing," an interactive game in which children "play detective, learn about Internet safety and help rescue a child who is in trouble online."
"We hope once this (effort with Rockdale and Lakeview) is launched, we’ll have other schools involved and we’ll roll it to all the schools in (North Georgia)," she added.
The ultimate goal, Hakes said, is "to train every middle school kid about Internet safety."
The program focuses especially on middle school students because they "are really just starting to use the Internet, and that’s the most vulnerable group when it comes to decision making and judgment," Hakes said.
Kaffie McCullough of the Atlanta-based Juvenile Justice Fund added, "That’s also when (students) have the most confusion about who they are."