YOUTH #SAFETY #TOOLS FOR THE #DIGITAL AGE

SPIRIT LAKE — Paul Farina has watched online threats and bullying run rampant with youth in this digital age.

So the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force member and others are reaching out to families to provide tools on how to combat such attacks with a free seminar tonight at 6 at Timberlake Junior High School, 5830 Blackwell Blvd., in Spirit Lake.

“Youth Safety in the Digital World” — presented by ICAC, Kootenai County Juvenile Probation and Spirit Lake Police — will cover topics such as sexting, cyber bullying, dangers of pornography, child sex trafficking, social media, apps, exploitation and messaging.

“This is how kids communicate, and we want families to be more informed so they can make better decisions on how to supervise kids on social media,” Farina said. “We not only want to tell about what’s going on, but we also want to help parents be able to monitor that.”

Due to the mature nature of the information, it is recommended only children 13 and older attend the seminar with their parents. An interactive discussion is encouraged.

Another presenter at the seminar will be Lori Whiteman, a Kootenai County Juvenile Probation officer.

“With so many headlines about online threats and bullying, we thought it would be great to offer education at the parental level on how to handle it,” said Heather McDaniel, Spirit Lake Police administrative assistant. “It’s no secret that online bullying and social media misuse is a problem running rampant, not just in our area, but everywhere.

“Our hope is that we can educate them on the very real risks kids are exposed to online, how to respond should their children be involved in inappropriate activity either as a victim or as an offender and ways to be proactive about monitoring online activity.”

Farina said most phone companies offer apps that parents can use to limit the hours their children can spend on the internet.

“The victims are younger and young, and some parents just can’t keep up with the technology,” he said.

Farina said parents and students will be educated on the dangers of exchanging or posting nude photos and the ramifications of doing so.

He said ICAC, which was formed as a statewide task force in 2013, is open to presenting seminars to schools, churches and groups.

Those with questions can also email Farina at pfarina@kcgov.us. There is no need to RSVP for tonight’s seminar.