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The City Journals

Draper Elementary students realize own power with internet safety

Feb 22, 2017 03:54PM ● By Julie Slama

Draper Elementary students celebrate White Ribbon Week by wearing superhero clothing, celebrating their own powers to be safe online. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Third-grader Jacob Connolly dressed up as a superhero during an event that started Draper Elementary’s White Ribbon Week addressing internet safety.
“We’re superheroes because we can save people and save ourselves from bad things other people put on the internet,” he said. “I plan to talk to my parents about being safe online, but dressing up as a superhero is my favorite part of the week so far.”
Draper Elementary used the theme “I’ve Got the Power” to educate students about internet safety as part of the White Ribbon Week.
White Ribbon Week first began in 1987 when Norma Norris decided to act upon a sermon she heard from her pastor in Butler, Penn. She decided to “wrap” or use a white ribbon against pornography, using the white ribbon of decency. It has now expanded to be a school program presented by volunteers or teachers to help kids make healthy choices online by avoiding harmful media and using technology in positive ways.
“We want them to realize as superheroes they have the power to turn off a device, the power to tell an adult if something isn’t right, the power to ask for help,” said volunteer Vanessa Croshaw, who coordinated the Feb. 6 weeklong campaign. “We want students to talk to parents about how to be safe while online.”
During White Ribbon Week, students received daily power boost messages to empower them to take charge of their choices on the internet. The first day, students learned they had the power not to view or share embarrassing or negative information. The second day, the message was, “I have the power to tell a trusted adult if anything makes me feel uncomfortable or scared.”
Croshaw said students are first exposed to inappropriate material as early as age nine.
“We need to have our students tell parents what is going on so they’re aware of the situation,” she said.
The White Ribbon Week website said if parents learn their child has been exposed to pornography, remain calm.
“A parent who overreacts can cause more emotional damage and pain to the child than the offensive material itself,” the website states.
Parents also can install internet filters on their computer and set up parental controls on their television to help shield students from inappropriate material. There also are safe searches on Google images and on YouTube.
On Wednesday, students learned to ask before downloading information and on Thursday, they received the message, “I have the power to turn it off.” Students also learned they can influence their friends to make safe choices online.
Education allows students to feel empowered to be confident and safe, Croshaw said.
Principal Piper Riddle said the school takes internet safety seriously.