STOPit Cop Tom Rich, an internationally recognized expert on internet safety, shared his message with students and parents at Knollwood School on Nov. 29.
Sgt. Rich has dedicated his career to educating today’s youth about internet dangers through STOPit cybersafe rallies.
STOPit cybersafe rallies are presentations designed to help students protect and empower themselves by managing today’s technology in a safe and constructive way. Using teachable moments, Rich helps bridge the gap between students and the adults responsible for them. The goal: encouraging students to be more open about their online activity.
At two daytime rallies for students in fourth and fifth and sixth through eighth grades and an evening event for adults, Rich shared the consequences of misusing technology, social media, and popular apps such as Snapchat and Yik Yak. Using his own cell phone and an interactive presentation, he demonstrated how students can make their devices safer.
Rich warned that is easy to fall into a trap and share private information with strangers online, especially when gaming. He urged students to reach out to a parent or other responsible adult when on online missteps do occur.
“Don’t be secretive about your internet usage,” he warned.
Rich also addressed the topics of bullying and cyberbullying, urging the students to be careful and “think before they click” when posting on social media.
“Bullying is all about perception. We are all different,” he said. “What it comes down to at the end of the day is allowing people to be different and respecting them for it. The issue of cyberbullying is really not about devices, it’s about behavior.”
An 18-year veteran of the Summit Police Department, where he served as a D.A.R.E. officer, juvenile officer and detective, Rich has been a keynote speaker at more than 700 events nationally and has been featured on Good Morning America, CNN, and Fox Television. His message has been heard by more than one million students around the world.