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One State Might Require 'Social Media Safety' Courses in Public Schools

Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Late last month, Townhall covered a story about a former police officer from Virginia who catfished a teenage girl and drove across the country to her home and killed her family. 

Reportedly, the former police officer, Austin Lee Edwards, who is 28, posed as a 17-year-old boy online. He met the 15-year-old girl online and obtained her personal information and reportedly solicited nude photos from her. Then, Edwards drove to her home in California, on the opposite side of the country, and set her house on fire and killed her family members. 

As the fire department came on the scene, Edwards had already taken off in his car with the teenager. His vehicle was located by police later in the day. He reportedly fired gunshots at police officers. While initial reports claimed that Edwards was gunned down by officers returning fire, the San Bernardino County Coroner said in an autopsy report that Edwards’ death was self-inflicted.

When this terrible situation occurred, Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez called it “yet another horrific reminder of the predators existing online who prey on our children.”

“If you’ve already had a conversation with your kids on how to be safe online and on social media, have it again. If not, start it now to better protect them,” Gonzalez said.

This week, a lawmaker in Florida proposed a bill that would require public schools in the state to teach children about staying safe on social media. 

If passed, the bill would require the state’s Department of Education to create social media safety curriculum and make materials available for parents to see. 

The proposed definition of social media would be “a form of interactive electronic communication through an Internet website or application by which a user creates a service-specific identifying user profile to connect with other users of the Internet website or application for the purpose of communicating and sharing information, ideas, news, stories, opinions, images, videos, and 31 other content.”

“It’s about protecting kids,” Florida State Sen. Danny Burgess (R) said, according to The Hill. “It’s about helping them realize things they do today may live long after they posted it.”

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