Students learn digital footprint is never erased

Quakertown Community School District mid­dle school stu­dents learned about their dig­i­tal foot­print and how any post they make to a social media site or any pho­to down­loaded to a cell phone can per­ma­nent­ly impact their reputation. 

Brian Hendrzak, a Richland Township Police Officer and one of two School Resource Officers in QCSD, gave pre­sen­ta­tions to stu­dents at the Sixth Grade Center and Strayer Middle School about the impor­tance of watch­ing their words and actions in the dig­i­tal world. “Everything you do online leaves a dig­i­tal foot­print behind, which ulti­mate­ly can be traced,” Officer Hendrzak said. “If you do not want the entire world to see it, do not post it.”

His mes­sage also con­nect­ed the state’s Safe2Say Something youth vio­lence pre­ven­tion pro­gram to online dangers.

We’ve tak­en thou­sands of tips from Safe2Say,” he said. “Please speak up when nec­es­sary. If you know of some­one who may be a threat to them­selves or oth­ers, go to a trust­ed adult, a par­ent, a teacher, a coun­selor. If you see some­thing, say something.”

When using their cell phone, Officer Hendrzak advised stu­dents against hav­ing their loca­tion set­tings on. “Please speak to your par­ents about that,” he said. He also said to only accept friend/follow requests from peo­ple they know.

He real­ly cov­ered a lot of impor­tant top­ics,” said Josh Rogers, a stu­dent at the Sixth Grade Center. “It’s impor­tant for us and I think for kids even younger because they go online and click on things they shouldn’t.”

Principal Dr. Jennifer Bubser said Officer Hendrzak’s mes­sage is an impor­tant one as sev­er­al stu­dents have been mak­ing poor deci­sions online.  “This is about con­tin­u­ing the con­ver­sa­tion and edu­cat­ing our kids about the dan­gers of what can hap­pen in the dig­i­tal world,” she said. “We know these are impor­tant con­ver­sa­tions for fam­i­lies to have, and we care about our stu­dents as well.” 

Officer Hendrzak urged stu­dents to build a pos­i­tive online rep­u­ta­tion and to always be respect­ful when inter­act­ing with oth­ers. Speaking from the heart, he said, “I stand here in front of you, beg­ging you ‘do not give any­one any­thing that can dam­age you in the future.’ ”