Are You Safe on the Internet?


Katherine Peng, Contributing Writer

On Monday, November 2nd, Manhasset CASA’s Youth Club hosted the Nassau County District Attorney’s Stop Then Send Internet Safety Program with guest speaker Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Brian Heid. ADA Heid is a Unit Chief with the Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau and was awarded the prestigious 2009 Champion for Children Award due to his numerous contributions to the Project Safe Childhood Task Force.

Manhasset students and parents listened attentively as ADA Heid began the presentation with the heavy topic of bullying. “Bullying isn’t just at school anymore,” said ADA Heid. Many of his cases involve cyber bullying rather than physical or emotional bullying. ADA Heid stated that clicking the anonymous button on social media sites does not always protect one’s identity; evidence online can be traced and never goes away.

Manhasset students were also instructed to follow the acronym STOP before sending any messages on the Internet:

S Study the content

T Think about others

O Only send if appropriate

P Pictures are forever

Further into the program, Heid introduced every parent’s worst nightmare: sexting. Manhasset parents gripped their seats when they learned that two out of five teenagers have sent suggestive text messages and one out of five teenagers has either sent or posted nude photos of him- or herself. ADA Heid revealed that there are many criminal consequences associated with cyber bullying including aggravated harassment, criminal impersonation, and the label of “sex offender” for those who engage in sending or receiving sexually explicit messages. These consequences are detrimental to the college application process because they are permanent on a student’s record.

ADA Heid also stated that 80 percent of college admissions officers use Facebook to check student activity online. Manhasset students and parents left the Nassau County District Attorney’s program with the final message in mind, “Use the Internet maturely and responsibly and always remember to protect yourself.”