CHADRON – Students in the summer Upward Bound course on the Chadron State College campus got lessons last week in keeping themselves safe in the cyber age thanks to a collaboration between the Upward Bound and the Chadron Police Department.
Twenty-two high school students from Chadron, Alliance and Crawford are enrolled in this summer’s Upward Bound program at CSC. Upward Bound is one of six U.S. Department of Education TRiO programs aimed at motivating and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds in furthering their education. Chadron State opened the first Upward Bound program in Nebraska in 1966 and currently hosts another TRiO program, Project Strive, which provides support services to eligible college students.
Upward Bound students live in a CSC residence hall during the month-long summer session that includes a variety of daily academic courses and other activities, as well as evening study sessions. Students also receive follow-up help during the regular school year. The classes, activities and residence hall stay give students skills and experiences that can help them enter college and succeed, according to Maggie Smith-Bruehlman, who has directed the CSC program since 2009.
For this summer’s program, Smith-Bruehlman had hoped to include instruction in martial arts, but the instructor wasn’t able to make it to Chadron, so she contacted the Chadron Police Department for assistance. The department arranged for Officer Derek Bauer, who recently took over as the School Resource Officer at Chadron High School, to speak to the class.
Bauer’s first session covered aspects of bullying, both in person and through social media on the internet, and gave the students tips on how to avoid being bullied, and what to do if they are subjected to bullying from others.
In a second class, Bauer discussed sexting, which he defined as sending sexually suggestive or nude photos as messages via cell phones. Surveys show that close to 40 percent of high school students, both male and female, report having sent or received such messages, said Bauer, but the practice has many dangers.
Although a photo may be sent to only one close friend, the sender has no control over where it may shared or viewed, Bauer warned the students.
“You can’t take it back,” he said.
The consequences of having an inappropriate photo shared widely can include harassment and bullying by other students, stalking, and even blackmail, said Bauer.
Sharing a lewd message with others can lead to school disciplinary action or even criminal charges in some cases, he said.
Talking about subjects like bullying or sexting isn’t intended to scare students, but rather to make them aware of the potential consequences of what may seem like innocent actions, said Bauer.
“We are not looking to get you in trouble. Our goal is to stop victimization,” he said.
The subjects Bauer addressed aren’t in the same category as martial arts but they are still important parts of personal safety, said Smith-Bruehlman, who noted that the students also had a presentation by a representative from the DOVES program for victims of domestic violence.
“These are some of the things they encounter in their daily lives and in high school,” Smith-Bruehlman said. “It’s trying to keep kids safe and out of the situations where they would have to use martial arts.”
This summer’s Upward Bound program is the first to include presentations by the Chadron Police department, said Smith-Bruehlman. She praised the department for making Bauer available to present to the class during a busy time.
“In the end it helps everybody. It helps the community, it helps the police department. It helps our kids and the college,” Smith-Bruehlman said of the presentations. “These are all potential (college) students and citizens, so preparing them for life is kind of our goal. It’s connecting all the resources of the community, the college and Upward Bound and finding how we can work together to help everybody.”
This culmination of this year’s summer Upward Bound course will be a trip to Colorado, where students will stay at the Colorado School of Mines, visit museums in Denver, attend a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and go on a whitewater rafting trip.
The Upward Bound summer staff includes Jen Balmat, Heather Barry, Bradley Gaston, Amy Graham, Travis Hencey, Rossana Jaeger, Brenda Lanphear, Tearza Mashburn, Lee Miller, Jonn McLain, Darrien Oliver, Katie Patrick, Laure Sinn, Stephanie Stroup, Lane Swedberg and Smith-Bruehlman.