It seems as though kids with smart phones and tablets get younger and more abundant. This somewhat private connection is useful for emergencies and allows parents the ability to easily be in touch with their children. However, it can lead to potential dangers from the outside world. Major problems with children and the internet are cyber bullying and indecent exposure. That’s why Caverna Middle School 7th and 8th grade students attended a presentation by Bob Couchman, ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Investigator, Forensic Examiner, and Secret Service. The Cyber Safe Kids presentation was sponsored by FRYSC (Family Resource & Youth Services Centers) and KY ASAP (Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy). Mr. Couchman discussed candidly about sending inappropriate pictures, ways not to use social media and the consequences that follow. Students had the opportunity to see videos of real –life stories and experiences. Middle School teacher, Terry Thorpe stated, “Mr. Couchman had the student’s attention from the beginning. They were very forthcoming with their own experiences. I believe several will be more careful from here on out, thanks to this presentation.”
According to Journal of Education approximately one in five students reported being cyber bullied in the past year, with 55% of those students being repeatedly victimized within the past 30 days. Female students were more likely to be involved in cyberbullying (victim, bully, and witness) compared to male students. One aspect of this study involved an examination of student disclosure and the consequences of informing others of cyberbullying. Approximately 64% of youth reported the incident when they were cyber bullied, and 60% reported when they witnessed cyber bullying. Peers and parents were told most frequently, while teachers were rarely informed. The likelihood of the cyber bullying behavior terminating was not influenced by the group informed of the incident. Overall, neither peers nor adults were very effective in assisting youth to reduce the cyber bullying behavior. These results suggest that peers, parents, and school personnel need to be prepared to offer more helpful strategies to youth who are involved in cyberbullying as victims, perpetrators, and witnesses. The common suggestion that youth report bullying behavior loses some of its credibility when those who do report do not receive helpful advice.
Bill Couchman, ICAC Investigator-Forensic Examiner said, “Many schools have told me that students sending nude images, cyber bullying, and bringing social media drama to school is the #1 problem they deal with on a daily basis. You can’t help build those foundations if you are dealing with this every day.
I work with FRYSC’s, their students, and parents to decrease incidents and effects of students being victimized by online predators, other students and their own bad choices.”
Much like his work as a police officer, retired Madisonville Police Department Detective Bob Couchman’s post-retirement career includes protecting children from online predators.
Mr. Couchman partners with Michael Lemon, one of a two-detective team devoted to digital forensic analysis before retiring July 31. He spent 12 years investigating Internet crimes against children, and eight years extracting information from computers, cellphones and other digital devices for use in investigations in nearly every type of crime.His offerings are twofold. For parents who want to know what their children are engaged in online, he provides a social scan service. He uses computers and forensic software to take a digital snapshot of a device’s complete contents, including items that have been deleted or removed from search histories.
The other part of his business includes training law enforcement officers from other agencies to conduct forensic exams of digital devices. As part of that service, those agencies will have a subscription allowing them 24-hour access to his lab and equipment. In the coming weeks they will have online access to his software from a remote location.
Working with FRYSC across the state, we have trained over 4,000 students, educators, and parents (yes, parents actually show up) in 2018.
Schools have seen declines in students sending illicit images and lessening of the effects of the times they do send them.
When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time.
Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy. *Story contributed by Wilma Bunnell