Lessons on Instagram, Snapchat and other major social media platforms by the Saugus Wellness Committee showed parents just how vulnerable their children are to online predators.
“I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to see more people here,” said school Superintendent David DeRuosi to the room of 15 parents and community.
Those who did come out to the Saugus Public Library for last week’s meeting learned about a variety of topics, with the most discussion revolving around the possibility of children being targeted online.
“This is a real aha moment for me,” said a parent, Tom Carroll. “This is the one place I’m really vulnerable.”
Presented by Middlesex Partners for Youth Prevention and education Coordinator Camila Barrera, the night included lessons on the possible dangers present in the online world that could affect children.
The parent information series has explored a series of concerns voiced from parents and the community including vaping, dating violence, and depression.
Part of the presentation last week was a YouTube video showing a social experiment where young girls were targeted by a man who was working with their parents, talking with them online and setting up meetings.
“I’ve been saying this to my daughter for years, just because someone knows your name doesn’t mean they know you,” said Gina Pires.
Barrera told the parents that predators often engage in conversations using things that children are familiar with and like in order to keep conversations going.
Later the group discussed the sending of naked pictures online, also called sexting.
“We know that 50 percent of people that receive a sext will send it to three or more people,” Barrera said.
Barrera and DeRuosi told parents that if their children are involved in a situation with illegal pictures to either go to the school or the police so that it can be handled properly. It is illegal to send explicit pictures of underage children through email or text.
“I always suggest you go to the school because you get the support for them,” she said.
Members of the group suggested that the video be shown to more parents and children in schools.
Carroll, who is also president of the Saugus Rotary Club, said that the organization will be having their own presentation as soon as possible with Barrera.
“This was great,” he said.