By Dennis Morgan
Students from Elgin schools as well as from Wheeler Central and Chambers learned about the dangers of cyberbullying, sexting, hazing, the use of social media and how to protect themselves online during a presentation Monday.
Karen Haase, an attorney from KSB School Law, spoke at Elgin High School to elementary, junior high and high school students about the dangers involved in various forms of social media during two sessions.
Her two-hour discussion during the morning session focused primarily on sexting, cyberbullying and hazing and the legal consequences. She used actual court cases to show how potentially harmful social media can be.
For all of the good things associated with social media, there is also a dark side, which for school-age students, if not controlled, can lead to dangerous situations which can end up in civil or criminal court. Applications which are often used and sometimes misused include Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Facebook, Kik and Yik Yak.
“I am not here to tell you not to be on Snapchat, not to use it, but to make decisions on how to use social media to make your life better, not worse.”
There’s a belief, Haase said, that images sent on social media that one deletes off their phone can never be retrieved. Using example after example, she said that is simply not the case.
“It’s the sort of thing that’s funny, til it’s not,” Haase said. “My goal here is not to embarrass anybody, or to point fingers at anybody, but tell you I see these cases in Nebraska all the time. The judges are sick of it and getting more and more harsh and are sending kids a message — don’t be doing this stuff.”
Haase’s discussion with students was straight forward, she didn’t speak to them as a parent or a teacher, but as a lawyer who has spent much of the last few years involved with students who have made bad choices.
Early in her presentation, Haase shared statistics which reflect the problems associated with social media.
• One in four kids admits to being cyberbullied
• 65 percent of kids know someone being cyberbullied
• 29 percent of teens admit that they have posted mean information about someone else
• 86 percent of teenagers have been “stalked by a stranger” on some social media account
• 55 percent of teens admit they’ve given personal information to someone they do not know
Schools across Nebraska are aware of cyberbullying and are able to utilize a number of disciplinary tools. Depending on the severity, those tools can include a loss of privileges such as taking away the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. Other steps which can be taken involve suspensions, assignment to alternative school and, in the most sever cases of cyberbullying — expulsion.
For the complete story, see the Print Edition of The Elgin Review