Sgt. Matthew Dubois with the Juneau Police Department can recall a time when educating children about safety was as simple as having conversations in classrooms. But with the advancement of the internet and technology, Dubois said keeping kids safe today requires a lot more planning and education.
“When I was growing up, we had sex education in school and you’d talk about good touch, bad touch along with body parts and body safety, but now it’s a different world we live in where internet dangers are becoming more of a common theme,” Dubois said.
Dubois will be teaching a free internet safety class from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 7 for parents and caring adults. JPD has hosted Citizen’s Academies in the past where Dubois said he’s taught similar classes, but never a class on its own at the Juneau Police Station . Dubois said he has wanted to teach another class for some time and intentionally picked Feb. 7 because it’s recognized nationally as Safer Internet Day.
“I’ve provided this class to parents and teachers, as well as churches in the past, but we haven’t done one in a while and I wanted to do another one and solicit public interest,” Dubois said. “It’s important to have an understanding that children don’t have to actually be physically touched to be abused or exploited and that’s kind of what this course offers education around.”
Dubois said the goal of the class is to help parents and caring adults develop an understanding of social media, the internet and the dangers children potentially face online. Dubois said the information provided in this course will help develop methods of keeping children safe online, as well as while using smartphone applications. The class will also cover the history of the internet, social media, online victimization, cyberbullying, sexting, sextortion, online predators and how to keep children safe.
The class is filling up and there are currently only a few seats, according to Dubois. There are no online options at this time as Dubois said he feels the class is more beneficial in person, however, he said he is willing to provide class handouts containing resources for anyone who would like the information but is unable to attend the course in person. To register, contact Dubois at (907) 500-0634 or by email at email@example.com.
“I try to keep it to not too large of a class, right around 25 just so it’s still personal and I think sometimes people feel a little more comfortable asking questions in a group of 20 as opposed to a group of like 150,” Dubois said. “My goal is to continue throughout the year because I think there’s a lot of demand for a class like this.”
Juneau resident Sion Colmus and her husband Dave Wink said they plan to attend the course because with many kids of their own, including some in their teens, they recognize the importance of being on the same page with kids and technology.
“I am interested since I have four teenagers and a 9 year old that all have access to getting online,” Colmus said. “My husband and I do foster care and we have seven children total. It’s been challenging trying to keep our kids safe as they have social media and access to the internet on their devices. It’s amazing what is out there and what is capable, even just on their school laptops.”
JeannieMae Emanoff said she plans to attend because online and internet safety classes are especially important and necessary at a time when so much of people’s daily lives are intertwined in online communication.
“Not only is it important to keep parents, caregivers, family, and friends updated on how to keep our children and youth safe, but there is a need to introduce a program that encourages ways to have an online presence, while also addressing certain behaviors to avoid online to protect oneself,” Emanoff said. “While online technology is useful and necessary in today’s world, any guidance that can be offered to parents and caregivers is important especially if the police department is offering this.”
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.