Cyber-bullying subject of school safety conference

By Megan DeMarco
Philadelphia Inquirer
Organizers of a cyber-bullying conference in Gloucester County yesterday set the tone by showing the movie Sticks and Stones.

In it, the popular Lindsay and loner Brandon share a high school English class. Though they rarely speak to each other, they exchange text messages in class and instant messages late at night.

But when Lindsay’s boyfriend gets into her computer, he sends a humiliating picture of Brandon to the entire school. One night he even messages Brandon from Lindsay’s screen name, pretending to be her. When Brandon confesses his love, she tells him to “just disappear.”

He does. The movie ends with Brandon hanging himself from a bridge.

After the viewing, the more than 300 law enforcement officials and educators on hand talked about ways to combat the misuse of technology among students.

“The crimes that are committed by technology are not going to go away,” said Sgt. Steve LaPorta of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office’s cyber-crimes unit. He said Internet safety concerns have grown from child predators and cyber stalking to sexting and online harassment.

The setting for the film and discussion was the third annual School Safety and Security Conference, organized by the Prosecutor’s Office and hosted by six other county prosecutors, including those from Camden and Burlington. Full story.


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