Keeping kids safe with tips and resources from the DCSO
By Elean Gersack
Safety is a top priority for most families. Fortunately, we live in one of the safest counties around. As a community, it’s up to everyone – families, neighbors, friends, schools, and law enforcement – to work together to help keep everyone safe.
The Castle Pines Connection recently sat down with Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) Public Information Officer Sergeant Ron Hanavan and Detective Chris Stadler to discuss safety. What stood out the most during the interview was the importance of neighbors watching out for each other as well as parents having strong relationships with children and setting expectations and rules while building trust and open and on-going communication.
On the Street
Be involved and be aware. “What are your kids doing? Don’t just assume because maybe they reach a certain age they are ok to be outside alone. They need to be supervised by you or a trusted adult,” said Hanavan. Whether you know your neighbors well, know of recent criminal activity in the area, or even have a registered sex offender living nearby, the same message stands – be aware. According to the deputies, the majority of sex offenders are family members. “Does it happen [random offenses], yes, but most [assailants] are known,” said Hanavan. The deputies suggest the video “The Safe Side” for young children concerning stranger awareness. Video previews can be found at www.safeside.com and videos can be downloaded on iTunes and YouTube.
All of the fun and functionality of the Internet comes with a price – privacy. According to Hanavan, the biggest risk to children and teens is behind the screens – computers, smart phones and any electronic device connected to the Internet. People can pretend to be anyone and ultimately gain trust from vulnerable and innocent youngsters. Parents should be involved and monitor online activity. “They shouldn’t be able to take that communication device and be hidden in a bedroom or a restroom. It should be used out in the open,” added Hanavan.
According to Stadler, kids today don’t really understand consequences. Parents should have tough conversations with their kids and talk about today and how it can impact the future, including the fact that colleges and employers will review online behavior when considering applicants. The Internet is forever … every post and every photo. The recent breach of Snapchat photos (the app that promotes 10 second photos that then delete) is a fresh reminder of that fact.
Both deputies agree that getting in trouble online is completely preventable. Not only can photos go viral and be a source of embarrassment, but individuals who send inappropriate photos and those receiving them may face felony child pornography charges. “Just don’t put yourself in those situations,” said Stadler.
The School Connection
DCSO deputies work closely with the Douglas County School District (DCSD) to help keep students safe and provide communication avenues for whenever they have concerns. The Y.E.S.S. (Youth Education and Safety in Schools) program focuses on positive education for students. Topics include suicide prevention, driver safety, and the anonymous text-a tip program. Additionally, the DCSO works in conjunction with the DCSD to provide resource officers on-site and for periodic visits.
The DCSO website has many valuable safety resources, including:
Internet Safety (http://www.dcsheriff.net/yess/internet-safety/)
Sex Offender Registry Database (https://www.sotar.us/apps/sotar/initPublicIndexRedirect.do)
Y.E.S.S. Program (http://www.dcsheriff.net/yess/)
Crime Activity Database (http://raidsonline.com)
Many thanks to Sergeant Hanavan and Detective Stadler for taking time to share such valuable safety messages for our readers. In an emergency, always call 911. For non-emergency calls, contact the DCSO at 303-660-7500. For additional information, visit www.dcsheriff.net.