Presentation to instruct parents in cyber safety

by Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – What happens when a child hits send? That is the question and the focus of a special presentation for parents and professionals taking place Feb. 26 at Morinville Public Elementary School (MPES). The Cyber World presentation, a joint initiative between the MPES School Council and Morinville’s Family and Community Support Services Department (FCSS), looks at guarding children while they are online. It is open and free to all Morinville parents.

MPES School Council Chair Eva Scrimshaw is hoping parents will take advantage of what she and the School Council see as an important event. “It is very important that parents with children of any age are one step ahead and educated with issues youth face today,” Scrimshaw said. “As parents and professionals we cannot ignore these issues; we must be educated and ready to support and understand the best we can. We need to be full of resources. We need to listen. We need to know what our children are doing in life and online. We need to show that we are interested in what they have to say. We need to engage in activities with them. We need to remember that these children are our future and it takes a village to raise a child.”

Scrimshaw, a mother of two, has some experience in the field of dealing with youth. She has been a child and youth care professional for the past 15 years and is currently employed by the Town of Gibbons as the Youth, Recreation and Events Coordinator. Taking a course on this topic reinforced her passion about spreading the important message. “I went to a course for people who work with kids and youth and when it was over and I picked my jaw up off the floor, I knew I had to share this info with every single parent I know.”

Katie Kitschke of SAFFRON Centre Ltd., a Sherwood Park-based organization that specializes in crisis, therapy and education, will conduct The Morinville session as well as one Scrimshaw is organizing in Gibbons for Feb. 24. Both sessions will include discussions on what the Internet is and how it can be used, and why parents need to talk to their children about Internet safety and having online boundaries. Other topics covered include bullying and cyber bullying, cell phone use, online gaming, and the risk of online predators.

The Morinville event is being held in conjunction with Pink Shirt Day, an annual event intended to create a united front and stand against bullying. The awareness day started in Nova Scotia in 2007 and has since spread across the country with some provinces taking part the last Wednesday in February, others on the second Thursday in September. The movement has a website at pinkshirtday.ca.

The event takes place Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. For more information about the Morinville presentation, contact Eva Scrimshaw at 780-399-1544.

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