Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If you don't want the world to know, then...?

Sitting in staff meeting yesterday after school, our community police officer gave us the normal talk about drugs, gangs and violence in our neighborhood. Being in an elementary school, he skipped most of his normal talk because he feels as though we don't have to deal with all of these problems in our school, yet.
The officer went on to tell us a story about how the County Police arrested several gang members near or around our school. He asked us... "How do you think we caught these gang members?". It was a baited question of course. He just clicked on his next slide to show us these students MYSPACE pages. These students published pictures of themselves on MYSPACE in front of large amounts of illegal drugs and guns in their hands. Needless to say, these students from a local high school were wanted for a number of offenses and were arrested when the officer recognized them on the Internet.
Some people would say that this story is quite laughable. Everyone laughs at the bad guy when they are responsible for getting themselves caught. I think there is a television show about this very idea. I did not laugh at the story though. I think this story scratches the surface of what we as a society are up against right now and in the future. Kids growing up today have to be guided as to the amount of personal information they share with the world.
I know that my school district has a whole team that sits behind computers at the Board of Education Central Office that scrolls through MYSPACE pages all day long. They use these pages to find out about trends in schools, fights that may happen, and illegal activities that may be done by students. They have been very successful at preventing many occurrences from taking place in the past few years.
This gets me to my point. If information is put out there for the world to see, it will be used. We need to teach kids at a young age that if they don't want the information known by the world, don't put it on the Internet. Some get it and some don't.


Jenny said...

You make a great point here. My husband is a college professor and has frequent discussions with students about this exact issue.

But I struggled with this reading your post because it seems wonderful that these students were caught, so it worked in society's favor this time.

It just reminded me that there is a flip side to everything. Thanks for making me think about this.

A. Woody DeLauder said...

Thank you for your comment. I didn't mean to come across like I was promoting the gang members. I am very happy that they were caught and put behind bars. I was just using the scenario as an example of the internet illiteracies that are present in the world. This happens to different degrees every day. What someone puts on the internet may ruin a career, reputation or life. We need to let the kids in on the facts. Thanks again!