Your Respect Hero:
Detective Tim Alford
Tim Alford has been a member of the Evansville Police Department for 15 years. He has served as a motor patrol officer, school liaison officer with the North High School district, and is currently serving as a Juvenile Detective. He is also a member of the Crises Negotiations Team and active member of the Suicide Prevention Coalition. Tim also serves on a child abuse task force sponsored by St. Mary’s Hospital. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern Indiana.
Special thanks to Jeff Tron, ICATS, for bringing us today’s guest blogger.
Respect is a powerful word. It is something we all hope is shown to us by others. Most students show respect daily to their teachers and classmates by following the rules and not disrupting class. If they don’t, consequences are given that might include a suspension from class or serving detention. What about showing digital respect? How many can say they also follow the rules and show respect while online? Many students may feel they do in fact show respect online. But consider these actions: 1) Taking a picture of someone, whether friend or not, with or without their knowledge and then posting that picture on a social site such as Instagram or Facebook, or sharing as a text message; 2) Letting off some steam and frustration posting “I hate him.” or “I want to kill him.” 3) Sending unwanted “teasing” messages to someone using inappropriate language; 4) Making fun of someone for their looks, beliefs, or abilities.
These four actions are examples of situations that have led to much more than just a class or school suspension. They’ve led to involvement by the Evansville Police Department and criminal charges. Situations that seem harmless to students soon lead to serious consequences when the police department gets involved. When school officials receive reports of harassment or bullying that have occurred online, they can contact the police, seize student netbooks, phones, or other devices, and an investigation by the police department’s computer forensics unit takes place. This unit has the ability to access data that students may think they have successfully deleted. Students are responsible for content on their devices even if they have not authored the content.
Students need to protect themselves from being a part of online bullying and disrespect. What can they do to protect themselves if they receive inappropriate digital communication? One option is to ignore the behavior and not respond or add comments to existing disrespect. While that is a smart move, students must also act heroically and report the behavior to parents or school officials. The Evansville Police Department takes the issue of harmful communication very seriously and works hard to protect students from online bullying.
You can be a digital hero and protect yourself and others from serious, legal consequences by not participating in negative and harmful online communication and by reporting it when observed. I challenge you to use technology for good and show respect to all people. If I can be of service to you or you have any questions, please contact me at talford(at)evansvillepolice.com. Thank you for reading my post.
What would you do if you found yourself involved in an online bullying episode? What does it mean to be an upstander rather than a bystander? Share your experiences, good and bad, so that we can all learn together.