Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann joined us February 15 to kick off our Cybersafe Parent initiative.
AM:Eyewitness News i starting a new initiative — Cybersafe Parent — to help you protect your children. A threat on social media led to today’s increased security at North Middle School and Nicholas Cruz made online threats before Wednesday’s shooting in Florida. So what’s a parent to do? Cyber safety continues to be a growing concern. Shelley Kirk joins us live from our Cybersafe Parent Call Center. Hello, Shelley.
SK: Hello, Amy, and yes we are here at the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office with a call center behind me. These are local experts that have a lot of experience dealing with this cyber world — the dangers that kids face out there. And they’re here to answer any questions or concerns you might have. So I encourage you to get on your phones now and call them with any questions about how to talk to your kids, how to look on their phones, and see what really they’re doing. These are the people to talk to. The number is on your screen. And you can call them and ask them.We’ll be here til 7 o’clock tonight and you can do it up until then.And you know a lot of parents don’t know what to do. They don’t know what to really look for. The big thing that we want to drive home is ‘you need to find out. You need to be active in your kids’ lives, especially in their cyber lives.’ What they look at on the Internet, what they look at on their phones. And I’m going to ask Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann to step in here. Thank you for being with us tonight. And I know this is something that you see even in your prosecution, some of the cases that you’ve had. You’ve dealt with this first hand.
NH: Yeah, it’s one thing when the parent knows everyone that comes in contact with their child — when the only contact is people coming to the door, calling on a land line. When you introduce smart phones and computers and tablets, it opens up the world wide web. It opens up unlimited people for children to talk to. And sometimes they know who’s on the other end and sometimes they don’t.
SK: And that’s a good point. A lot of the times these kids think they’re doing something perfectly safe. But they’re not. How do we drive that message home to them. Tell us what you’ve experienced.
NH: I think the most effective thing is to talk to your children about it. Talk to them about ‘just because somebody has a picture, somebody has a name, that doesn’t mean that’s who that is.’ I mean, anyone that has a Facebook account gets fake requests, gets all these types of things and you start to see that. Children may not know exactly what that is and you have people — predators — you have people setting up crimes, you have people that are wanting to do things to children and you want to talk to your kids about that because that’s a type of communication that you’re likely not to see or know about.
SK: And some of the things kids hide from their parents they may do it very easily on a phone. You even mentioned video games. Tell us about that.
NH: Well, there’s all different types of ways to communicate. You can communicate video games with headsets where you talk back and forth. Umm, there are games obviously where you text back and forth. Those types of things — think about all the different ways you can communicate on your phone or on your computer. Kids know a lot of ways to have that type of communication.
SK: All right, Nick Hermann, thank you so much for talking to us about this. I know this is an initiative that the prosecutor’s office is going to work with us in the coming months so I’m sure we’ll be talking a lot more to you about this.
(This story was originally published on February 23, 2018)