Bellefonte Area School District moves to address online safety for students

Just because a picture was deleted online doesn’t mean it actually went away.

On Thursday, the Bellefonte Area School District, in partnership with attorney Jason S. Dunkle, Spring Township police, the Pleasant Gap Rotary Club and local businesses, will host an online safety night at Pleasant Gap Elementary School.

The goal is to provide parents of students in the district with information on social media and how to protect their children from harm.

Arlin Roth, the district’s instructional technology specialist, will present information and a panel will answer questions afterward.

“We want to make parents aware of the possible dangers of online use and help them help us educate students from an early age about this,” said Pam Grimminger, life skills support teacher and technology trainer at Pleasant Gap Elementary. “We want students to know that you’re not as private as you think.”

The idea for the event was sparked last year as a way to inform the public about what apps are good, what apps can be used inappropriately and how to avoid online dangers.

“It’s linked to cyberbullying and legal issues that go along with online use when used the wrong way,” Grimminger said.

The event was held last year at the high school, but the administration wanted to bring the issue to elementary education this year.

Grimminger didn’t have specific examples but said there have been students in the district who used social media in a way that got them in trouble.

“We’re seeing things like this at the primary level,” Grimminger said. “It’s not limited to the high school.”

She said the main apps and websites targeted in this program are the Kik app, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Vine.

“It’s important that we’re proactive instead of reactive and help parents make educated decisions for their children,” Grimminger said. “We want to be at the forefront of protecting (students) and preventing incidents.”