District attorney’s office offers back to school safety tips

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 22, 2021

With school back in session, here are some safety tips from Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook:

• Internet and digital images: Technology has advanced in the past decade where most parents and children alike have cell phones capable of accessing the internet and taking photographs. Popular sites for children to communicate with others include Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Kik, WhatsApp, Discord and Tumblr. Teens often try out new apps that parents may not be aware of.

Parents should speak with their children about the dangers of taking sexual photos and/or sharing them with others. Once a photograph is shared with others, it can be posted on websites or even altered. Internet predators are sophisticated and prey on our children. Be proactive in monitoring your child’s text messages, emails, photographs, Internet and cellphone activity.  

For information on how to protect your family from inappropriate websites, including parental controls to minimize a child’s access to certain websites: opendns.com/home-internet-security

Cyberbullying: Bullying can quickly spiral out of control and negatively affect a child emotionally, physically and mentally. What should you do if you believe your child is being bullied on the Internet or at school?  Contact the school administration and law enforcement immediately. Visit www.netsmartz.org for online safety tools for educators, parents, and children. Additional resources on this topic include: stopbullying.gov and dpi.nc.gov/districts-schools/district-operations/center-safer-schools/bullying-prevention.

Sex offenders: It is important for families to know where a registered sex offender is living in their community. Fortunately, this information is easily accessible. Resources available to parents include:

  1. The North Carolina Sex Offender Registry: sexoffender.ncsbi.gov.  
  2. Parents can sign up to receive e-mail alerts when a sex offender registers at an address near your residence or at your child’s school: signup.ncsbi.gov
  3. Parents can receive telephone alert notifications by calling 1-877-627-2826 or visit ncsavan.org
  4. A sex offender registry app is available for users of Apple and Android: sexoffender.ncsbi.gov.

Additional Resources: For concerns involving cell phones, cyberbullying, chat rooms, computer stalking, file sharing, gaming, internet safety, webcams, predators, social networking and sexting: netsmartz.org and ncdoj.gov/internet-safety/protect-kids-on-the-internet.

SPK UP NC is a school safety program for students that enables them to send anonymous tips about school safety concerns from an app they can download on their phone, iPad, Macbook or other mobile- and web-based technology: staysafespeakup.app.