Parents of JeffCo student want principal removed for not warning them of school shooting threat

Parents of JeffCo student want principal removed for not warning them of school shooting threat

Governor’s Ranch School

Jefferson County in Colorado contains the most infamous school in the history of school shootings, Columbine. So it would be natural if parents became concerned about a possible shooting at the school their children attend. It might not be unfeasible for parents to be outraged when the threat of a school shooting is made at their children’s school and the parents aren’t informed of the incident.

At Governor’s Ranch School, also in Littleton where Columbine is, a student allegedly told another student he was going to go home, get his father’s shotgun and shoot the other student.

A threat assessment document, obtained by Denver7, indicates that one student was joking with other students about “being like Donald Trump,” and the other said, “I’m going to bring my Dad’s shotgun and shoot you.”

The threat was reported to a teacher who reported it to the school psychologist, however, law enforcement was not called. Why were police not called you might ask? Shouldn’t we be taking every step possible to prevent a future school shooting, especially at the Ground Zero of all modern school shootings? Normally I would say yes, but the students in question are 8-years-old and the school in question is Governor’s Ranch Elementary School. That sounds like one of the most pretentious public school names I’ve ever heard, so I’m not surprised the two parents sound like over-reactive divas who want to shield their kid from all negative emotions.

The parents of the student who made the threat were informed and the student was disciplined, but this isn’t enough for the pearl clutchers with their fainting couches, saying their family has been ruined by the event. They want the principal removed for not following the protocol set forth by the school district in the wake of Columbine.

It sounds like to me these parents are projecting their own over-emotional sensitivities onto their child. In the real world not inhabited by the pretentious and the melodramatic, the problem is solved with these four words: They’re 8-years-old.

If this had happened in a less prosperous school district, this would be a non-story.

Family catches alleged predator in homemade sting

Family catches alleged predator in homemade sting

A story is making the rounds that a family in Del City, Oklahoma, caught an alleged online predator in a homemade sting. The father was using parental software when he is said to have caught his 13-year-old daughter having a sexual conversation with a 33-year-old man. It wasn’t made clear what platform was being used to perpetuate the ‘relationship’.

The father posed as his daughter and invited the man to their house. When the man showed up he was greeted by a number of family members who tackled the man to the ground and zip-tied him until police could arrive.

I’m torn about this story because on the one hand I completely commend this father for taking the precautions to monitor his daughter’s online activity. However, in no way do I ever recommend capturing a suspect yourself. In a number of cases, online predators have been known to be armed when captured in police stings. In a sting conducted by untrained civilians, if a suspect is armed, it could have grave consequences.

What you can do if you find your child in a similar situation is to record everything, write everything down, and leave the actual capturing to the police.

Thanks to Lady Gray for the tip.

Is the Live.Me app something parents should worry about?

Is the Live.Me app something parents should worry about?

I recently received a tip about a livestreaming app for mobile devices called Live.Me. With the app, anyone can livestream video from wherever they are and viewers, or followers, are able to leave comments. The internet, being what it is, has caused problems for some users of the app.

While I was unable to find any arrests related to Live.Me there have been two separate sets of parents who have complained about the app to their local news channels. In one instance, a 9-year-old girl from Colorado was allegedly threatened and coerced into taking her clothes off on camera. In another instance, a 12-year-old Florida girl was reportedly approached on the app for explicit pictures.

At this point I decided to download the app for myself to see what it’s all about. On the surface it reminds me of Stickam, the now defunct web cam site. A good number of the streamers on Live.Me were scantily clad females. The age of the streamers isn’t always displayed and the app doesn’t really require any age check for it to be used. According to their terms of service, a user has to be at least 13 to use the app, but you have to be at least 18 to download it. I have no idea on how they can actually enforce any of that, which leads me to believe they probably aren’t. Live.Me also says they don’t allow nudity or explicit sexual contact of any kind, but again it’s unknown how they’re monitoring for such content, if they’re monitoring for it at all.

One thing that particularly bothered me about the app was the ‘Nearby’ feature. As far as I can tell, even if you disable your location, it still shows you people near you who are broadcasting live on the app. Location is disabled by default but that doesn’t appear to affect the Nearby feature. Even the amount of miles between you and someone watching your stream is too revealing for me. That’s all some predators need to begin gathering information on a victim.

So in conclusion, as with most apps, it’s the parent who has to be the ultimate guardian. Check your children’s phones and tablets regularly for apps like this and then proceed responsibly.

Thanks to Cynthia for the tip.

Parents prevent possible school shooting in Utah

Parents prevent possible school shooting in Utah

Hell has frozen over, the Seventh Seal has been broken and grab two of each animal and head for the border because the end is nigh. Two parents in Bountiful, Utah, actually prevented their 15-year-old son from possibly shooting up Mueller Park Junior High. The suspect allegedly stole two guns from his parents’ gun safe and took them to the school. The parents not only noticed the guns were missing, but that their son was acting strangely the morning of the incident. Let’s hear it for attentive parenting for once.

The parents rushed to the school in order to locate their son when they heard a gunshot. The suspect fired a shot into the ceiling of a classroom then held the gun to his neck. His mother found him in the classroom and disarmed him before anything else could happen. Luckily no one was physically injured. The guns were said to have been secured properly in their safe, but it has not been made public how the suspect obtained the guns.

The suspect is currently being held in a juvenile facility and has been charged only with misdemeanors so far. Felonies could be forthcoming. So far no motive has been made public.

How many school shootings in the US could have been prevented just by parents being more attentive than they were? How many more people would be alive today if more people acted as parents rather than friends? Not just friends though, a lot of parents of school shooters acted even more like acquaintances being barely involved in their children’s life. Too many parents are trying to be the cool parents rather than good parents. Luckily these parents were very good.

UPDATE 12/17/2016: Local prosecutors are looking to charge the suspect as an adult. He has been charged with three felonies of two counts of theft and a count of discharging a firearm on school ground.

UPDATE 12/26/2016: The teen suspect has pleaded not guilty. His attorney says it was a ‘cry or help’ and he never meant to hurt anyone.

In my opinion that doesn’t matter. He allegedly took multiple guns to the school and fired one of the guns. It’s only by sheer luck that one was injured or killed.

UPDATE 2/13/2017: The suspect has entered a guilty plea to discharging a firearm at the school. The plea agreement means three other charges have been dropped. He could be held in juvenile detention until he is 21 when he is sentenced on February 23rd.

UPDATE 2/27/2017: Late last week the suspect was sentenced to juvenile detention for an indeterminate amount of time. According to reports, he could be held as little as six months and as much as until he’s 21. The judge left that matter in the hands of the Youth Parole Authority.

New app to be on the look out for: Yellow

New app to be on the look out for: Yellow

While this article from the Daily Mail is sensationalized, it’s not without its merits concerning the new Snapchat companion app: Yellow.

Yellow is not made by Snap Inc. themselves, however it does encourage Snapchat’s users to ‘Make new friends on Snapchat. This reminds me of the random cam chat site Omegle, who encourages their users to ‘Talk to Strangers’. Yellow is being called the Tinder of Snapchat as users have to swipe left or right on their devices in order to show which of the other users they wish to chat with. Once a mutual swipe is done between two users they can start messaging each other through snapchat.

As is usual with any of these type of apps, anyone can lie about their age or who they are. Not only does that mean that underage kids can lie about being over 18, but predators can lie about their age and say that they’re only 18. That’s not even mentioning the predators who are looking for adult victims as well. Yellow’s developers say that there is an option to report users who are being abusive but that will be little comfort to anyone who is assaulted after meeting their Snapchat ‘friend’, or a minor being extorted after sending explicit pictures.

Yellow has every right to develop any app they want within reason however that doesn’t mean that as a parent you should trust them to protect your kids. App developers only worry about the amount of money they can make off the app. So if you are a parent to underage kids with smart phones or tablets, keep an eye out for this app and consider holding on to their devices at night. As a parent you are the only real line of defense between predators and your kids.

Let’s go over this again: Grand Theft Auto is NOT for kids

gta-v

I Sold Too Many Copies of GTA V To Parents Who Didn’t Give a Damn:

The article I linked to was written by a video game store employee and how he sold too many copies of Grand Theft Auto V to a bunch of clueless parents whose kids are too young for the game. If you’re unfamiliar with the GTA series in each incarnation of the game you play a criminal and you are required to do some pretty violent things in order for the game to progress. Here’s the thing, despite what some critics may try to tell you the GTA series was never intended for children.

This is a pet peeve of mine because I’ve been a gamer since the introduction of the Atari 2600. I had the first generation Sears model. So I’ve been gaming longer than some of these ‘parents’ have been alive. I know that all video games that are released to the public today, and for a decade and a half now, all have ratings on them just like movies.

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All of the Grand Theft Auto games are rated M for mature. That means that the game is not recommended for anyone under 17. While I don’t believe that video games cause violence per se if a kid was exposed to this game at too young an age it could have detrimental psychological effects on the child. For example, there was this kid I knew growing up who got into his dad’s porn stash. Back in those days, it was Playboy and Penthouse magazines, tame by today’s standards. However young children believe just about everything they see or hear. This kid ended up believing all the things he saw and read in these magazines as real, especially the ‘Dear Penthouse’ sections. When we were in middle school he told me how disappointed he was when we were selling magazines for school that we weren’t invited into this one house that had several attractive young women in it.

My point is that if a too young child is exposed to this game they may end up thinking that the ultraviolence in GTA is not only acceptable but encouraged in society and by the time he grows out of it, it may be too late.

The sad state of parenting and social networking

Parents Worry About Their Kids’ Safety on the Internet:

Check out this quote from US News and World Report about parenting and social networking sites…

More than four in five parents say their children use the Internet without adult supervision, but at the same time almost two-thirds are worried about online predators, a new survey has found.

Here’s an idea, if you’re that worried about your kids encountering online predators how about KEEPING A FREAKIN’ EYE ON THEM. Do not let them be without supervision while on the net. Do not let them keep a computer in their room. And for the love of all that is just and good do not let them have a webcam.

It’s not that hard people.

How young is too young?

Social networks and kids: How young is too young?:

This article from CNN tries to tackle the question of how young is too young for kids to be on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Well, you can read the psychobabble from CNN are you can read the straight truth I’m about to give you.

Most of the bigger sites set the minimum age of use at 13. However they have no way of verifying a user’s age so it’s up to you, the parent, to make sure they’re not on it if they’re under age. I think 13 is old enough to be on a social site however it’s not old enough for them to be on social sites unmonitored. You may have the most well-behaved children in the world. You may trust them completely. It’s not your kids that you have to worry about. It’s the other people out there that you have no control over that you have to worry about. You may have the most intelligent and sensible child in the world but that doesn’t matter to a hill of beans when it comes to predators.

A lot of sexual predators out there are the most devious and manipulative group of cretins to ever slink across the face of the planet. Your kid is not immune to their Svengali like machinations. You must monitor your kids’ activities not just in Facebook and Myspace but everywhere on the internet.

My biggest safety tips to you are to not let them keep the computer in their own room and definitely not to let them have a webcam. You are really the only line of defense between your kids and predators.

And how old should they be until you stop monitoring their activity? I tend to lead towards when they’re 18 when they’re legally responsible for themselves. Hopefully by then you’ve instilled enough sense in them.

No easy MySpace answers

No Easy Answer for Protecting Kids Online:

A report issued by the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, led by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and ordered from 49 state attorneys general says what I’ve been saying for years. There is no software solution to protect your kids from online predators on MySpace among other threats. The report also says that parental oversight combined with technology and education are the best protection for you children. Parental involvement? What a concept. Why hasn’t someone said that before? Oh wait, that’s right, I did.

Now let’s hear from two of the most outspoken attorneys general on the matter. First up is North Carolina AG Roy Cooper.

Attorney General Roy Cooper of North Carolina said in an interview Tuesday: “Clearly, the main responsibility is on parents.” But he added that “because technology companies are providing this gathering space and encouraging children to come, they have a duty to put in place technologies that can help protect kids.”

I don’t remember AG Cooper saying anything about the main responsibility being om parents leading up to the election. Now that he’s been re-elected he’s putting the onus on the parents. Funny how that works. By the way I did not vote for him.

Now Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal…

Mr. Blumenthal said these measures are a step in the right direction.

“We see in our police work, in the trenches, that young people continue to be lured and enticed to very dangerous situations, sometimes resulting in criminal assaults as a result of contacts on social-networking sites,” he said.

Notice that he didn’t say anything about parenting.

My advice to parents has always been don’t expect the government or MySpace to have your children’s best interest at heart. You are the first and last line of defense when it comes to your children on the internet.

Top 10 tips for parents

Mastering MySpace Dangers: 10 Tips for Concerned Parents:

This is an incredible article that every parent with a MySpace age kid needs to read. It give 10 very simple common sense tips on how to deal kids’ behavior on MySpace or any other social networking site.

Even if you think you’re pretty advanced in your net knowledge I still recommend reading it.