Police, educators address cyberbullying, sexting

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Educators, students, parents and law enforcement officers gathered at the Indiana State Museum Saturday to discuss the issues and dangers associated with cyberbullying and sexting.

“If we had to graph it, it would be just a steady increase over the past five years of cyberbullying and sextortion and the proliferation of naked selfies that continually reappear,” IMPD Detective Darin Odier said.

Odier was part of a panel discussion along with representatives from IPS, Verizon Wireless and Heritage Christian Schools.

Odier said students today don’t understand the long-lasting effects that naked picture can have on their reputation and future. The officer said he’s uncovered sexting rings here in Indianapolis involving students as young as the third grade.

“I can’t reach into the Internet and pull that picture off,” he said.”Once it’s on there, it’s on there for forever and there’s no going back.”

Odier credits part of the rise in popularity of naked selfies due to the availability of pornography. He said it’s a new age where kids have access to porn with just a few keystrokes on their phone.

“Our bodies don’t have the same importance that our parents passed on to us, because there’s this (whole) other side that’s so readily available,” Odier said.

In addition to sexting, cyberbullying was a hot topic at the panel discussion led by Fox 59’s Fanchon Stinger.

“There are so many things that are fantastic (about the Internet,) but there are so many dangers,” Heritage Christian Principal Jerry Stayton said. “Many times parents feel like, ‘well it’s OK,’ and kids really convince their parents they can handle it, but the reality is the dangers are very real. They don’t feel real because they are not outside your door yet.”

Stayton said he along with every other educator in the state has to constantly deal with cyberbullying, a problem that didn’t exist when he started his career.

He said while educators do their best to prevent and appropriately handle cyberbulliyng, there’s only so much they can do. He said it really comes down to families fixing at lot of these problems.

”Besides just cyber safety just everything in life kids need their parents,” Stayton said. “They need their parents to teach them and kids resist. They do. I don’t know any child that always welcomes a correction, but they need it. They need it and there’s something deep inside a child that understands that when they are being corrected and even disciplined, it’s love.”

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