Parents learn internet safety

Published 7:33 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2017



A free Internet Safety Event hosted by Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) gave parents the tools they need to keep their children safe from internet predators and other risks.

According to Division Superintendent Dr. Nancy Leonard, about 30 people attended the event.

Nancy Leonard

Nancy Leonard

“We have had several people who were in attendance of the seminar … ask us to have additional opportunities for people to hear of these very practical safety strategies,” said Leonard. “The seminar was a real eye-opener for many in attendance.”

Leonard and her technology team led the seminar which covered topics including cyberbullying, digital citizenship, online solicitation, online privacy and solutions for safety.

“The technology team provided an overview of the opportunities for internet child predators to access children, including deactivated cell phones, gaming devices and the latest in apps which are free for children to download on cell phones and other devices,” said Leonard.

School employees taught parents how to check their children’s devices and how to alter settings on the devices to keep the children safe.

“There are so many built-in options for children to chat with people from around the world,” Leonard said. “Very often children are not interacting with the people that they think they are interacting with in these sites.”

The event speakers shared the dangers of parents posting pictures of their children on Facebook because of options, such as Geo Mapping, which could allow predators to track the children based on their location.

“There are many awareness resources out there for parents to review. However, rarely have I seen the depth and practical advice that was provided at the seminar,” said Leonard.

She praised her technology team, which included Resource Officer Andy Colbert, Probation Officer Tiffany Russell, School Social Worker Alison Gibbs, Director of Technology Rodney Hudson and Instructional Technology Resource Teacher Claire Locke.

“The team spoke from the heart as knowledgeable professionals in the field, but also as parents and community members,” said Leonard.

Hudson shared details about the practices he has in place in his home to keep his children secure from internet predators and cyber bullies, said Leonard.

He shared strategies and the need for parents to “lockout” predators and cyberbullies from families’ homes.

Locke and Gibbs provided strategies for keeping children safe and red flags to watch with children, she said.

Russell and Culbert provided an update on laws pertaining to internet use.

“They spoke to the difficulties that they see on a weekly basis and how children can so quickly engage in behaviors using technology which could have lasting effects on their futures,” Leonard said.

“Protecting our children is a topic that we are passionate about, and we will continue our trainings for parents, school staff and students,” Leonard said.

CCPS has started an internet safety page for parents. Leonard said the division will be updating the page regularly. The powerpoint from the seminar is also posted there as a resource.

“If there is a church or other group that would like for us to present this information, please let us know by contacting … the school board office,” she said. “If we can keep one precious child safe, it is worth the effort.”

Leonard can be contacted at (434) 542-5152 or email at