Students cautioned to be careful online
(May 4, 2012) Special Agent David Fallon wants kids and parents to be
aware of the dangers that lurk online.
Fallon, a 22-year veteran of the FBI, has spent more than a decade
tracking down online sexual predators. He spoke to each grade at
Voorheesville Middle School on Tuesday, May 1, and gave a presentation
for community members Tuesday night.
When asked by Fallon, most students in the eighth grade presentation
acknowledged that they had Facebook accounts and cell phones with
cameras. “You guys are pretty wired,” he said. But when asked how many
had given to parents their passwords for their online accounts, few
students raised their hands.
“Parents don’t pay attention to what their kids are doing online, and
that’s where we get into trouble,” he said.
“A lot of sexual predators go to the exact same places you go,” he said,
referencing Facebook and other online websites. “They will do whatever
it takes to meet you. Predators will use information to gain trust and
Fallon told students that Facebook users generally place too much
personal information about themselves online: name, age, phone number,
grade, email, photos … the list goes on. “Who needs to know all that?”
Fallon asked. “If they’re your friends, they already know that stuff.”
If you wouldn’t share information with someone walking down the street,
you shouldn’t post it online. “You have to protect your privacy,” he
Fallon also spoke to eighth graders about sexting – sending sexually
explicit messages or photos, typically via cell phone. “Once you post
it, you don’t know where those pictures go. Once it’s out there, it’s
never coming back. It can be forwarded to anyone,” he said.
Fallon cautioned students to consider the long-term consequences – and
how they will be perceived by colleges, potential employers and family
members – based on what they say and post online. “This is about who you
will be for the rest of your life,” he said.
Another internet danger, said Fallon, is cyberbullying.
“Cyberbullying is a major middle school problem,” said Fallon.
Fallon said the impact of cyberbulling can be psychological, physical
and emotional. He offered the following tips for victims of
• Don’t respond if someone says something you don’t like it, tell
• Don’t retaliate
• Save the evidence
• Talk to a trusted adult
He also encouraged students to look out for each other. “If you see it
happening, you have to step up to do something about it. Be a leader, be
a friend,” he said.
Fallon also offered the following online safety tips:
If something’s bothering you online, tell someone.
Do not respond to messages that make you uncomforable.
Don’t post personal information online.
Respect copyright laws
Don’t forward emails to everyone in your address book
Secure your password
For more information on internet safety, Fallon recommends the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children website.