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Program will teach dangers of tech

In an effort to combat cyber bullying, cyber crime and digital exploitation, the Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center will host a guest speaker from the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication March 30.

The event will be at Southwest Mississippi Community College’s auditorium. All community members are encouraged to attend. Admission is $5 per person or one donated stuffed animal.

The event will serve as a way to educate the community about the responsible use of technology and how to prevent digital abuse.

Guest speaker Richard Guerry is the executive director of IROC2 and author of several cyber safety and citizenship books. He has been a featured speaker at numerous national and international conferences and has appeared as a digital safety expert on Radio Disney, CNN, MTV and various other media outlets.

Guerry’s program raises awareness among all generations of negative and malicious digital trends. Each attendee will gain knowledge on preventing cyber crime, cyber bullying and digital exploitation.

SMCAC Outreach Coordinator Trisha Artigues said the center decided to host the event, along with many others, for Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

“We are trying to do a number of outreach events in the community to bring awareness to child abuse,” Artigues said. “We will be going to Mamie Martin Elementary, Wesson Attendance Center, Parklane Academy and several other schools to do a puppet show for second graders.”

“We wanted to bring a speaker to address cyber safety because so many allegations of child abuse are involved in social media,” Artigues said. “We’ve also had many people request more information pertaining to cyber issues. More and more people want to know what apps their kids are on, how to monitor their social media and how to handle cyber issues.”

Artigues said Guerry will speak at several schools, but SMCAC wanted to provide a program for parents to gain the information as well.

“We figured having the open event would allow people who really wanted to get the information to get it,” Artigues said.

IROC2’s program received awards from the School Safety Advocacy Council in 2010 and 2011. Guerry’s books will be available at the event.