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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
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Local Kids Learn How To Prevent Cyber Crime

L.A.-based experts are teaching kids tips to stay safe from cyber bullying and other cyber crimes.

More than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online. October marks National Bullying Prevention month, and L.A.-based experts are teaching kids tips to stay safe from cyberbullying and other cybercrimes.

In the digital age, we’re constantly surrounded by new and tempting apps—there seem to be endless possibilities for social media consumption: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Kik and many, many more. But endless possibilities can mean endless opportunities for aggression. One USC student knows all about that. She requested her name not be used in the article for professional reasons.

In middle school, this student was cyberbullied by a former friend who had her password saved to her computer. The friend sent classmates mean messages from the bullied student’s AIM account. This continued without the student’s awareness of what was going on, that is, until her mother received a call from a friend and immediately called the police. The police were unable to do much for the student because there were no direct threats made. 

“I was really upset. I was already kind of an outcast in middle school—did my own thing, especially around the time that this was happening so that didn’t do anything to help it,” she said.

Lt. Andrea Grossman with the LAPD pointed out, “You can’t delete anything that’s on the Internet…when it’s happened it’s happened,” but “even if [the kids] have done something, it really doesn’t matter, we’re here to help.”

This student said she wishes education on cyberbullying was more comprehensive when she was in middle school. 

“We weren’t really taught about cyberbullying until high school,” she said,” kids are mean, they’ll always be mean to each other, and the best we can do is make people aware of it so it doesn’t keep moving forward.”

At a cybercrime prevention event in downtown L.A. today, the seventh annual Crime Prevention Symposium, experts provided that education. There were presentations, videos, break-out groups and even reenactments of real-life cybercrime scenarios performed by an improv troop. A sea of middle and high school-aged students stared down an screens—iPads, tablets, and iPhones, taking notes or playing games.

Suzanne Healy is Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of L.A. She said the event is all about “teaching [kids] about cyber safety, tips on being cyber allies as opposed to cyber bullies, tips on how to be safe online.”

Experts say in addition to attending workshops like these, teens and adolescents can protect themselves from cybercrime by following tips such as:

- Never upload pictures of yourself to people you don’t know.

- Never give out identifying information.

- Never arrange face-to-face meetings with people you meet online.

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