When I first became “THE PROSECUTOR,” I was excited to receive an invitation to speak about social media and its impact on our children. I very quickly accepted the invite and prepared my comments. Imagine my surprise when media showed up! Before I even began, the reporter asked why I wanted to speak about this particular topic. My response, as I recall, was that I have a passion for children, and if being prosecutor gives me a platform to keep children safe, I’m going to take full advantage of it.
Well, I’m stepping down from that platform at the end of this month, but I remain passionate about protecting children. It is such a difficult world for our children to navigate, very different from when I was a child. Those of my generation didn’t have to deal with the internet, social media, instant communication of every picture, every meal, every conversation. The idea of putting personal information out there “right now,” first, and consistently has dangers that children don’t always think about or realize, but the practice of doing so seems to be here to stay.
So how can we protect our children? There is no one magic fix. It is a bunch of little fixes and a lot of work. We have to be vigilant and keep up with the ever-changing technology our children use. I don’t know about you, but I need help keeping up.
CommonSensemedia.org is a website that helps parents and students navigate some of the pitfalls of our electronic world, a world that can be scary.
One of my favorite lines from an article I just read is, “If you knew what was really out there – online predators, identity thieves, data miners – you’d lock up the internet and throw away the key.” EXACTLY.
Of course the problem is, we are, in many cases, reliant on technology. From homework to news reports, online billing and keeping up with family, technology is part of normal, everyday life. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the kicker is, it takes a lot of time to do what’s needed to protect children in the meantime. While I’m not the most technically savvy person, I have to learn this stuff because my office deals with it every day.
Looking back now, I can say I chose to speak about the dangers of social media and the internet (and have many times since) because education can protect children and stop predators. My hope was to lessen what my office sees through empowering children and parents.
Eight years after that initial presentation, the dangers are still there, and still ever-changing. In addition to the old stand by apps (think Snapchat and Instagram), there are a number of new apps that can cause issues. Rather than list them, I’m going to refer you to the Common Sense Media website where you can read articles relevant to your child and your circumstances.
As I write this article now, it’s hard to believe that I will no longer be doing community presentations or outreach as your prosecutor – and this is my final article as well. My last day serving as your Delaware County prosecutor is Feb. 28. I will start a new position at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office on March 4.
I’ve dearly loved and appreciated serving this community, my community, for the last eight years. It has been an honor and a privilege.
Thank you to the staff at my office – both past and present. Our office has a stellar reputation because of your willingness to work nights, weekends, early mornings, and even during vacations. I cannot thank you enough.
Thank you to the community for your warm welcome and support. To all I’ve worked with in my official capacity as Delaware County prosecutor, I thank you. And last but not least – and goodness knows, I forget to do this way too often – I would like to take a moment and thank my husband, Bill Owen. I can guarantee I wouldn’t have been able to do my job as prosecutor without his willingness to accept a wonky work schedule and to pick up a lot of slack at home. Thank you for your support. I love you.
I may be taking up a new post, but I will still be around. Delaware is my home, and I look forward to seeing everyone out and about at various community events. In fact, even though it’s only February, it’s never too early for men to start looking for a stunning pair of heels to wear at the Walk-a-Mile-in-Her-Shoes event on the First Friday in May! I’ll see you there!
Carol O’Brien is Delaware County Prosecutor.