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School seminar to focus on cyber issues for parents

In response to a parent's request, Thomson Middle School is educating parents on the dangers their children face on the internet. A class will be held in the school auditorium at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5. The presentation is open to all parents in the community.

"Our whole purpose of this is to assist the parents with becoming aware of the challenges their students face when they get on the internet, particularly when they are unsupervised," said Claude Powell, the principal of Thomson Middle School.

The one-hour presentation and question and answer session will be taught by John Cleveland, the school safety and field operator for the Georgia Office of Homeland Security and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. Mr. Cleveland is not new to Thomson Middle School. Mr. Powell said he has been there to oversee disaster drills. Mr. Powell said he learned through the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that Mr. Cleveland could instruct the class.

"The GBI was offering this program, and it will be informative, as well as knowledge-based," the principal said.

Topics covered during the evening will be cyber-bullying, MySpace and chat rooms, and is intended for parents only. Mr. Cleveland will be teaching the students during school hours earlier that same day.

Mr. Powell said he "has a passion" for the issue. He feels addressing the cyber-bullying is important to keep his school a safe environment for learning.

"We are trying to be proactive instead of reactive," he said.

Mr. Powell also wants to enlighten parents on the dangers of their children meeting strangers through the internet and inviting the strangers into their home.

"We envision in our minds that these people are dressed in black and have unshaven faces, and we have this stereo-typed image. When in fact, these people are professionals," Mr. Powell said. "It just unnerves me for somebody to take advantage of a child's innocence and turn it into a crime. It's just not right."

Web posted on Thursday, August 31, 2006

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