#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Hastings Secondary College Westport campus welcomes cyber safety speaker Kirra Pendergast | Port Macquarie News

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Social media expert Kirra Pendergast dished out some hard truths to Port Macquarie children about the hidden dangers of the online world. The cyber safety and security speaker addressed Hastings Secondary College students at Westport campus on Thursday, February 6. The founder and director of the certified training provider discussed online threats to young people such as online tracking, privacy, online predators, trolling and bullying. “We discussed privacy settings, laws, their responsibility online, how to switch off things that are tracking them online and how to watch out for online grooming,” said Ms Pendergast. “Many children are now living their lives online and a lot of parents don’t understand that kids are image first and talk second. They share images of each other before they have conversations. “They may not recognise how dangers are presented online. I fill that gap in by translating what’s happening in the kids world to what’s happening in the parents and translate the law to kids. “This space has changed massively with numerous legal alterations because technology is galloping ahead and law cannot keep up. “The laws around sexting, defamation and grooming are constantly changing,” she said. “I have a big tech background and I tell the kids how it is. I tell them what the law is in their speak and treat them like adults because when you’re a teenager you think you are.” Ms Pendergast made significant reference to recent legal changes regarding Carly’s Law, making it a crime to plan to harm a child under 16 and include those who misrepresent their age. The law was brought into effect following the murder of 15-year-old Carly Ryan, by 50-year-old Garry Francis Newman. In 2007 Mr Newman pretended to be age 20 online to lure her to a meeting before her death. And the discussion appears to have hit the mark with year eight student Ben Webster saying the talk was very helpful. “It will help people stay safe online,” he said. “There were things I didn’t know about bullying online and the laws around that.” While you’re with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you’re up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE. If you value local journalism, continue to support us and consider taking out a subscription. CLICK HERE for a 30-day free trial.

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