June 16 • 12:58 PM

'Real Secret Life' of teens

Officials to host meeting in Almont to address issues in digital age

April 07, 2010
ALMONT — In this digital age, teens are facing a unique set of societal challenges. Unfortunately, they can have very serious consequences—something young adults don't seem to grasp.

Local school and law enforcement officials want to make parents more aware of the issues and get them involved in the campaign to keep kids safe.

On April 13, Almont Schools will host a parent meeting 'The Real Secret Life of the Almont Teenager,' at 6 p.m. at the high school auditorium. Feature speakers will include Lapeer County Prosecutor Byron Konschuh, Michigan State Trooper Cevin Brown and Child Advocacy Center Director Deborah Pacoe. Topics will include sexting, bullying, substance abuse and more.

Too often parents stick their heads in the sand when it comes to these issues, Konschuh said.

Teens and texting will be among the topics discussed at the April 13 parent seminar at Almont High.
"It's happening right here in Lapeer County," he said.

Almont Middle School Counselor Kari Diaz concurs.

"Parents think 'My kids wouldn't do that,' but every kid is exposed to it in one way or another," Diaz said.

"It's hard to step outside of our comfort zones, but it is here I'm sad to say."

'Sexting' is the common term for sexually explicit photos or message sent electronically, primarily between cell phones. Often these messages constitute child pornography under state law, Konschuh said.

Cyber-bullying happens when one person sends threatening or derogatory messages to another over the Internet.

Diaz said these types of activities aren't limited to school, but those abusive and harassing attitudes "trickle into the hallways everyday."

Next week's parents meeting is also set to address verbal and physical abuse in relationships and teen alcohol use.

Diaz said the intent of the meeting is to give parents the appropriate tools to deal with such issues.

"It needs to stop. Parents need to step up and help us out," she said.

Addressing Dryden High School students last week, Konschuh said he asked 'How many of you have seen bullying occur in your school?'

"Literally, every kid stood up and nearly everyone said they wanted it to stop," he added.

Following the parent meeting, Diaz said Almont Middle and High School counselors will facilitate workshops with students on the same topics with an emphasis on the social and legal consequences.

Bullying has been in the national spotlight for some time. In one of the most recent cases, six students in Massachusetts were charged for harassing a fellow high school students who committed suicide in January.

For more information, contact the Almont Middle School at 798-3578 or the High School at 798-8595.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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