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Local News

Kane County judges school St. Charles students in digital safety

ST. CHARLESThompson Middle School students on Thursday faced a projected image of a criminal complaint that outlined a charge of harassment through the use of Facebook and a Samsung tablet.

Indicating the document represented a real case in Kane County, Judges Clint Hull and Susan Clancy Boles asked the students to picture who might be brought to court on such a charge.

Boles indicated it was a young person.

“It could be any one of you,” she said, stressing the seriousness of certain digital actions.

The judges spoke to the St. Charles School District 303 students in a continued effort to prevent them from using technology – such as apps, texting and social media – in a way that could land them in trouble with the law.

“We don’t ever want to see you,” Hull said.

Their presentation featured several clips of newscasts of real-world examples, including the recent sexting scandal at a Colorado high school.

The judges warned the students that what can take seconds to create and disseminate – such as text messages and photos – can have lasting effects, even when using apps that are designed to make posts temporary, such as Snapchat.

“Snapchat doesn’t fade away into obscurity,” Hull said.

He also cautioned the students about believing they can stay a step ahead of the authorities by using new apps or technology to avoid detection. Police departments have dedicated cyber investigators, he said.

The judges took several questions from students after explaining that, in certain situations, people can be charged with possession of child pornography even if they received nude or partially nude images unsolicited. A time element is involved in the decision to issue charges, the judges said. They said cyber investigators can determine whether recipients of such images took appropriate action immediately after discovering the photographs.

Fines and supervision are among the potential consequences of a criminal charge, the judges said.

Boles, who has had a child as young as 10 in her courtroom, said she and Hull are big proponents of ordering offenders to community service because it is “very effective.”

They told the students the community service might very well interfere with their after-school activities, and lobbying from parents won’t change the court order.

“That’s too bad,” Boles said.

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