#childsafety | Student Suicide Prompts North Colonie Schools to Train Students, Parents about Internet Safety

After a 15-year-old boy took his own life after falling victim to a catfishing Internet scam, the North Colonie school district is holding Internet Safety sessions with middle and high school students.

Colonie, N.Y. — With virtual learning on the rise, the cyber-door is wide open for online predators. One school district in upstate New York recently felt the blow of this social media pandemic, when a 15-year-old student fell prey to a catfishing scheme, resulting in his own suicide. The school district is taking action by holding sessions for parents and students about Internet safety and suicide prevention. It’s a topic that demands attention, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that catfishing schemes like the one that prompted St. Lawrence County teen Riley Basford’s suicide, often target hundreds of victims at a time.

In Basford’s case, the predator persuaded the boy to send compromising photos, following up with threats to send the photos to friends and family unless demands for $3,500 were met, reports NNY360. Basford isn’t the first case of this nature in St. Lawrence County. As a result of a similar scam, 18-year-old Shylynn M. Dixon died by suicide. School officials are concerned that the scam may be circulating and are taking steps to protect students, alerting them of the risk, educating them on steps to stay safe and offering solutions, such as confiding in a trusted adult.

The FBI recommends these addition Internet safety steps:

The agency urges everyone to report suspected sexual exploitation in the following ways:

  • Contact your local law enforcement agency.
  • Contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.
  • File a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678 or online at www.cybertipline.org.

In a press release, the FBI made the following recommendations regarding reporting: “… be as descriptive as possible in the complaint form by providing as much of the following as possible:

  • Name and/or user name of the subject.
  • Email addresses and phone numbers used by the subject.
  • Websites used by the subject.
  • Description of all interactions with the subject.
  • Try to keep all original documentation, emails, text messages and logs of communication with the subject. Do not delete anything before law enforcement is able to review it.
  • Tell law enforcement everything about the online encounters—we understand it may be embarrassing for the parent or child, but providing all relevant information is necessary to find the offender, stop the abuse, and bring him/her to justice.”

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional information. 

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