Dear Cranford Community,
Cranford High School recently welcomed Sgt. Tom Rich, detective and presenter of the important topic of internet safety. He spoke with CHS students on March 28th during two assemblies and presented to parents on March 29th.
Sgt Rich is the "original" creator/founder of a program called "Generation Text". After having huge success since 2008 with this program, he decided to create "Always Connected" in 2011 and take it to a whole new level.
The purpose of "Always Connected" is to inform law enforcement, educators, administration, youth workers, youth groups, parents and children of all ages how to utilize technology in a positive way. Having dealt with children and investigations for the past ten years, Sgt Rich realized the huge impact that technology was having on children, especially in regards to cyberbullying, Sgt Rich decided to focus his efforts on educating audiences about current trends, real life problems and solutions for schools, parents and children. Most importantly, he helps address the problems that children face using technology and how these pitfalls lead to cyberbullying.
Below is a recent article written by CHS student, Nicole Tarantino. We know you will appreciate her perspective and coverage of this informative presentation. Please be sure to visit the online school newspaper by clicking The Spotlight to appreciate all of our authentic student writing.
The Consequence of Technology: How Can We Turn it Around?
By: Nicole Tarantino
On March 28th, students and faculty welcomed police officer Tom Rich into Cranford High to share his presentation on a topic which deemed both relevant and influential to the student body: Internet Safety. Rich, passionate in his plight to end the devastating consequences of misuse of the internet and texting, created a presentation which was so beneficial to the cause that he appeared on Good Morning America, and his presentation has been performed numerous times across the country. Rather than expressing the issue through a monotonous tangent about bullying, Rich truly sought to reach students by also speaking “about technology; how it is feeding and taking over our lives.”
According to Rich, 72 billion text messages are sent monthly. “Texting changes the way we deal with each other on a daily basis,” affirmed Rich, who concluded that having our heads buried in our phones does in fact remove a certain amount of our confidence and detach us from the world around us. The audience laughed in response to a video displayed of a baby using an iPhone; however this video was a reminder, even a warning, of technology’s increasing influence upon today’s society. It poses the question: just because the technology is there, should we always use it? Rich then explained how maturity is a major factor in the consideration of one should acquire his or her own cell phone.
Rich explained that with the increase in use of social networking sites such as Formspring, Facebook, and Twitter, teens tend to say things that would be inappropriate or hurtful to say to face to face. The presentation reminded students to refrain from saying anything online that they would not say in person. Formspring is a website that allows anyone to post anonymously about others. Rich stated that he could not comprehend why an individual would willingly expose themselves for public harassment. He found his answer through the reasoning of a fifth grade victim of online bullying, who stated that he had created a Formsping account in order to find out from others what was wrong with him and change himself accordingly. Of course, posts on Formspring are, more often than not, cruel attacks on others and the child’s mindset is evidence of the increasing issue.
“Words are like bullets. Whether you text them, send them, or post them- they can’t be taken back,” warned Rich. It is inevitable that we will not like everyone in our lifetime and everyone will not like us, but that fact does not justify the cruel things said online. A single picture, post, or text could drastically affect an individual’s life. Therefore, it is our duty as members of society to behave responsibly online.
Rich warns the students that there are consequences for the decisions they make on computers or on cell phones. The exchange of pornographic images through a cell phone is a federal crime and there are lasting consequences of having these images or forwarding them on one’s phone. Rich suggests that if you should receive content such as this, to show an adult, erase it, and most importantly; do not forward it!
Seventy percent of teens admit that online, they have talked to someone who they had never met in person. Rich’s telling of several stories indicated how quickly and unconsciously information could be passed onto predators. In addition to information, teenagers also often give away their reputations online. Unaware that those in charge of college admissions as well as employers check social networking sites, many students publicly post inappropriate pictures or posts that may affect them when applying for colleges and job opportunities.
Tom Rich’s powerful message about Internet safety and technology was vital to the students of CHS, who hopefully gained a greater understanding of the consequences of their actions online. In addition, students will soon take further action against harassment by participating in the Day of Silence, which according to Mr. Vito, is “a day in which students across the country foster can change.” The ultimate goal and purpose of this assembly was to create an awareness of the necessity of creating a future where technology fuels progress and success, rather than an epidemic of danger and cruelty.