One segment of the video shared a message from an Internet predator. The message was:
I prey on the insecure and those desperate for attention. I tell the victim we are soul mates. These tactics work to my advantage as I prey on vulnerable kids who can eventually let their guard down.
A voice on the video then says: Predators know what they are doing. Do you?
Two Barton County Sheriff’s officers shared the video with local participants in the recent Sixth Grade Health Fair at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center.
“This can be a tough age,” Det. Sgt. Dave Paden said. “We want to help them and their parents be aware of what goes on in the real world as a result of an inappropriate Internet connection.
“Parents should realize that if children are spending a lot of time in their rooms, they are not necessarily just listening to music,” Paden continued. “They are chatting and texting with other kids and maybe predators.”
Lt. Rick Popp noted that he and Paden both have children and are well aware these situations can be difficult to control. “But we know that Internet relationships can be devastating; we want to help give parents some tools to alleviate the problem,” Popp said.
Each child at the presentation received booklets with information about Internet safety and bullying. “We hope parents review it,” Popp commented. “It might help them find a way to talk with their kids.”
The officers also cautioned that some youngsters view regular texting as a new form of dating. “Some kids believe regular texting is the new version of going steady,” Paden said.
During one of several presentations, Riley School students were attentive to the video – even when a power outage caused problems. They couldn’t continue watching an enlarged version on the wall at St. Rose, but they eagerly stepped up to watch on small computer monitors that were still working.
Some of the advice and comments they heard included:
• You don’t always know the people you are talking to online;
• People will lie to you;
• If you think people can’t find out where you live, you are wrong;
• There are people out there just looking for a way to hurt someone;
• Report problems to your parents right away;
• Think before you friend someone on Facebook; and
• Never give out personal information.
The officers’ presentation at St. Rose was just one of several. Other sessions included making healthy choices; animals and your health; body image; hands-on information about x-rays and other medical issues; and communication.
Other presenters included St. Rose employees and community professionals.
Gloria Siefkes, R.N. and St. Rose employee health nurse, has been involved in the health fair for a number of years and said the event is popular with children and teachers.
“We hear a lot of good comments from everyone,” Siefkes said. “These topics are a perfect fit for this age group. We appreciate all the Great Bend elementary schools making arrangements to attend each year.”
St. Rose is part of the Centura Health family.