Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

In this digital age, caution is advised


February 7, 2019

Lois Johnson

Corporal Erik Blesener gives a presentation about the dangers of the internet and how to protect teenagers and children.

"If a 13-year old girl has a boyfriend in August and sends him a nude photo of herself, and then breaks up with him in October, he could send that photo to all of his friends," said Erik Blesener, a Cloquet police officer and School Resource Officer. "That photo could be on some 50-year old guy's phone in Moscow by the end of the day. That's how the internet works."

That was one of the examples that Blesener told the small group of people that attended his presentation, "Social Media and Our Children" at the Moose Lake School Auditorium on Monday, Jan. 28. The presentation was sponsored by the Moose Lake PTA.

"You live in a world and technology and cyberspace that didn't exist a few years ago," he told the group. "Your kids can go places on the internet and get into all kinds of things that you might not want them to get into."

Blesener gave an example of a parent dropping off his or her child on a street corner in an area of town where there are night clubs and pornographic book stores.

"I would never to that to my child but kids can go there in a second on the internet if there are no blocks on the Wi-Fi," he said. "All boys are the same. It is not any different now. Ten-year-old boys were looking for Playboy magazines a few years ago. Now they can find it on the internet."

Blesener spoke about cyberbullying.

"Two girls could be texting and snapchatting each other," he said. "One calls the other's boyfriend every bad name. It gets to be a spat between the girls. The mothers might get involved but the girls have to go to school the next day and face the other kids.

"Calm down and cool down."

Young teens do not realize all of the trouble that they could get into on the internet.

"The kids want to know if they can get in trouble on social media," said Blesener. "They feel very safe in their bedrooms but if they text someone and say that they are going to the other person's house and punch them, that is a direct threat. They can get in trouble with bullying."

Blesener said that the brains of young teens are not developed.

"Kids think with the backs of their brains," he said. "That where the primitive fight or flight response is located. They haven't developed the front part of their brains that adults use. That's why it is hard to explain to them the impact that they can have by what they post on the internet."

Sex trafficking is getting to be a problem in Carlton County, said Blesener.

"I was at a workshop at Fond du Lac college earlier today," he told the group. "Sex traffickers are recruiting 10-, 11-, 12-, 13- and 14-year olds from middle schools. Three adults have been sentenced to prison and one was sentenced to a federal prison. Sex trafficking is extremely difficult to track and prosecute.

"Be very wary of it. It is done on the internet. There might be an ad where someone is looking for 'three hot young women.' They must have great personalities and would be flown to Los Angeles.

"That's a pimp that wrote the ad. That's trolling."

A video was shown of a man who was conducting an experiment. He started communicating with a young teen and asked her to meet him in a nearby park when her parents weren't home.

She notified the man that her parents had left and that she would meet him in a few minutes.

She is shown walking to the park to meet this man that she does not know. All of a sudden, her father comes from behind a small building and shouts at her, "Are you crazy? He could have been a pedophile!"

"I've had girls tell me that they have gone on a blind date from a contact online," said Blesener. "As a parent, you should know who is following your teen online. It could be a pedophile."

Blesener suggested that parents set up a contract with their teens.

"You and your child or children would sign a contract stating that, if they don't follow the rules, you can take away their phones."

Parental control apps are available on cell phones. Blesener spoke about one called Our Pact that can be downloaded to phones. A parent can use the app to shut off their child's phone except to make calls.

"I'm thinking that this is incredible," he said. "Kids take their phones for granted. They don't have a lot of respect for it. If they post a photo on the internet, it is there forever and ever. It could pop up at the most embarrassing time, like for their own 14-year-old daughter 20 years later.

"Think about your social reputation. Would their grandmother or the principal approve? Or a future employer?" Blesener asked. "I tell the kids, don't be stupid. You leave a digital footprint. Don't let social media ruin your chances of getting into college."

Blesener spoke about vaping, where kids use e-cigarettes in the school restrooms.

"There are different amounts of nicotine in different strengths," he said. "There are flavors galore. You can't tell me that they are not marketing to kids."

He spoke about the high school principal in Willow River, Greg Campbell, that issues citations to teens that are vaping.

"It is called the RISE program," he said. "There is a mandatory parent conference if a student is issued a citation. There could be as many as three citations. Campbell said that they never have given a third citation."


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019

Rendered 12/11/2019 00:48