Kilgore ISD is partnering with Kilgore Police Department to keep kids safe online.

At KISD’s first Parent University meeting Oct. 15, Assistant Superintendent Richard Nash spoke with parents about student issues in the Kilgore Middle School cafeteria.

“A few years ago, we had community members and parents starting to talk about building a stronger partnership between our school and our parents. We took that advice and started putting it through and started sending out surveys,” Nash said, adding the surveys were intended to find out which topics KISD parents were interested in learning more about.

“That’s what we’re trying to develop at Parent University, just a way to educate, equip and engage with our parents. We want this to be a dialogue. We want this to be a good partnership.”

Nash said additional Parent University sessions are planned for the spring, covering topics including how to prepare students for life after high school and how to keep students active and engaged with learning over the summer break.

The session began with a presentation by KPD Chief Todd Hunter and his wife, Deputy Sherri Hunter of Upshur County Sheriff’s Office.

“Danger could be right outside your door or even in your own child’s hands. Most of us grew up and we didn’t have a phone, did we? But now, kids have a phone. Kids have internet in their homes and they have a computer. That’s where the boogeyman comes in,” Hunter said.

During the presentation, school staff and police officers distributed handouts to audience members containing information and statistics about some of the dangers which can occur online for children.

For example, statistics from www.Enough.org indicated 60 percent of teenagers have created social media accounts their parents don’t know about and approximately 1 in 7 young internet users have received unwanted sexual solicitations.

Hunter said dangerous situations can arise when kids don’t fully understand dangers which can be present online, on their phone and on social media sites.

“It is up to us to help educate and teach our children how to be safe,” Chief Hunter said, adding that if parents do not educate their children about certain topics, they may learn bad information from friends and peers at school.

Deputy Hunter advised parents to trust their gut instincts and, especially, to trust their child’s gut instincts. If a person gives a parent a bad feeling or seems “creepy”, they should not be allowed around the child.

Children should also be instructed to never give out personal information and parents should be aware of how their children are using popular social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Parents should take steps to educate their children to warn them about strangers online who try to gain their trust and get personal information about them.

Additionally, parents can help protect their kids by keeping lines of communication open in the household, disallowing the private use of electronic devices, keeping home computers centrally located and staying aware of what is going on in the lives of their children and their child’s friends.

Statistical information about youth internet use can be found in the following PDF document:

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