“Remember, when you post a photo on Facebook, it lasts a lifetime,” said Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace to a group of Jefferson Middle School students. “Even though you may delete it, the photo never goes away on the Internet. People will always have access to that photo. So always think twice before posting anything.”
Sheriff Gerace recently spoke with students in Library Media Specialist Julie Livengood’s Information Literacy class. Sheriff Gerace talked about ways to connect to the Internet, cyberbullying, avoiding scams, risky behaviors, safety tips, NYS computer laws and the various dangers on the Internet including viruses, identity theft, Craigslist scams, e-mail scams and harassment. Sheriff Gerace demonstrated to students how easy it is to find information on a person by simply doing a Facebook and White Pages search. He even zoomed in on one person’s house through Google Earth’s Street View, close enough to see the front and side doors. He also showed students how quickly someone can create a fake Facebook page and to pretend to be someone they’re not.
In Information Literacy, Mrs. Livengood covers a variety of topics that deal with issues pertinent to intellectual property, website evaluation, searching techniques, cyberbullying and Internet safety. Mrs. Livengood invited Sheriff Gerace to enhance the students’ learning and connect what is learned in the classroom to the outside world.
“I wanted to give students the opportunity to hear from an expert in the field,” said Mrs. Livengood. “I felt that as sheriff, he could better convey current and realistic information about Internet safety from the perspective of authority. It also gives students the opportunity to see the sheriff in a different light, not only as the enforcer of law.”
Mrs. Livengood stresses that parents should having an ongoing conversation with their children about the Internet. Parents can, and should, set rules about Internet usage and make sure their children understand the real dangers associated with it. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but one that needs to be used with knowledge and caution.