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.’ ”