New course is like traffic school for sexting

The conference piqued the interest of several potential partners across the country, including other law enforcement agencies, as well as state attorneys groups. Chung said the police department in Arlington, Va., expressed particular enthusiasm about bringing the program to its local teens.

Teens today communicate online when they are upset and want to vent. Instead of an appropriate outlet, they’ll put up a social media post that everyone can see and “that’s how the digital drama escalates,” Lawrence said.

She said many teens are also “exploring sexuality online in an unsafe way”: They will sometimes solicit chats with strangers, and then “they’ll always get asked for a picture, and a lot of kids will send it.”

Many teens “don’t consider what’s behind” their online actions, because they “feel safe in their home” and get “caught in a false sense of security,” Lawrence said.

The Yahoo! program has helped teens “take [online safety] a little more seriously, reflect more, and think about bigger picture things,” Lawrence said. “And parents are really thankful to get guidance on how to keep that dialogue going between parents and kids, so that it’s not just one talk.”

For more safety and security news, see:

How a lone grad student scooped the government—and what it means for your online privacy

Schools struggle to address video recording in classrooms

SAFE Center at eSN Online

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