CCPS to offer ‘parent night’

Published 4:44 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) will hold a “parent night” in late January as part of an internet safety initiative.

The presentation is not intended for children, said CCPS Division Superintendent Dr. Nancy Leonard, but for parents and caregivers of all school-age children.

“The idea for this initiative started when the case of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell, who was murdered by Virginia Tech student David Eisenhauer, became national news,” Leonard said. “That case drove home to me that cyber bullies and child predators are coming into families’ homes through the same door: social media.”

Leonard said the idea for the program came about during school system departmental meetings.

“As we talked about our grief over the loss of another child in Virginia to a child predator, we all agreed that we had to pool our resources and protect our children,” Leonard said. “There are so very many apps and ways for children to be engaging and interacting with people from all over the world. As adults, most of us are not familiar with all of the ways cell phones and other devices can be used to provide a continuous flow of information about our children to child predators.”

Leonard said children want to socialize with one another using the latest technology trends and applications, many of which are free downloads and designed to be hidden.

“Children have no idea of the danger that is present and how easy it is for ill-intentioned individuals to infiltrate that technology,” she said.

Leonard said the Jan. 26 parent night will include a panel consisting of herself as facilitator. Technology Director Rodney Hudson, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher Claire Locke, School Social Worker Alison Gibbs, School Resource Officer Andy Culbert and Tiffany Russell from the Department of Juvenile Justice will present at a program designed specifically for parents and caregivers.

“Each of these professionals deal with issues daily pertaining to social media and together have a wealth of practical information to share,” she said. “Our goal is to provide an overview of current technology used by children today and practical strategies for empowering parents to ‘close the door’ and ‘lock out’ child predators.”

Leonard said the program will begin at 7 p.m. in the Randolph-Henry High School auditorium.

“After meeting with the adults, we will be bringing age-appropriate safety programs, as follow up, to our schools,” Leonard said.