After an online threat closed the doors of Holy Trinity Academy Friday, Okotoks RCMP are reminding parents to be aware of their children's social media presence.
Okotoks RCMP School Resource Officer Cst. Rita Gillis says the use of social media by young people has been on a continuous upswing. And that's meant a dramatic increase in the number of related files that require police investigation.
"The notion of us living in a small town and not having big city problems really goes away when it comes to the use of online technology because there are no borders," Gillis says. "When individuals get on line, everyone is accessible to your young person. So it could be a total stranger, but it could be somebody in their class and a lot of these platforms have anonymity."
Gillis was at HTA earlier this month making a presentation to parents on the dangers of social media and how to keep children safe when they're online.
"I've been in the position as a school resource officer here in Okotoks since October," she says. "Rarely since I've taken this position has a week gone by where a file has not come into the detachment where a young person and their activities on line have resulted in, obviously a police file being generated, but a young person who's encountered something on line that could possibly be criminal in nature."
She says a top priority for parents should be keeping the lines of communication open. She recommends parents maintain access to usernames and passwords on children's accounts and regularly check social media usage on their devices. She also advises not allowing kids to have phones in their bedrooms.
"Parents, in my opinion, should be doing things like regularly checking your child's smart phone," Gillis says. "Looking to see who are they friends with, how many friends do they have on Facebook? If your child has 2,000 friends, I highly doubt that your child actually has 2,000 friends that they're in contact with."
An arrest was made in connection with the incident at H.T.A. Friday. After further investigation, RCMP have determined no charges will be laid.
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