HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the growing popularity of social media, and the alarming trend of youth suicides related to cyberbullying, Hawaii law enforcement and educators want to ensure students understand the dangers of cyberspace.
Crimestoppers Honolulu, in partnership with the state Attorney General's office, will be visiting 52 schools on Oahu to teach students how they can protect themselves from online predators and what they should do if they're ever a victim of cyberbullying.
"I had an 8-year-old boy hang himself with a judo belt. A year later, the mom killed herself. I had a 7-year-old girl jump out of a building," Sgt. Chris Kim said to high school students at Hanalani Schools in Mililani.
Using real-life cases and headlines straight out of the news, Kim spoke to students about how they can be targeted and exploited by strangers on social media, as well as the laws that are in place to protect people from bullying and harassment.
"When I come out here, I try not to sugar coat it. This is what's happening in Hawaii, as well as nationwide," Kim said.
Hanalani senior Kaylee DeLoye said, "I think it was very eye opening, not only for myself, but all the students. Especially because I know there are some incidents that have occurred on our campus that we can learn from."
Educators say issues with bullying have been around for generations, but today's technology amplifies the problem.
"They grew up with this technology, so we as adults have to make sure that they are prepared to be in an ever-changing world where this is something that will be a part of their daily lives," said Hanalani principal Winston Sakurai.
Crimestoppers also shared several ways students can be proactive in keeping their campus safe, including a smartphone app called P3 tips, which allows students to submit anonymous crime tips to police.
"We then work with the schools and report that tip to the schools. The school does their investigation. We were recently able to solve that Kalani High School fire through students submitting tips through the P3 tips app, so it's a very powerful and effective tool," said Kim.
There is also a Student Crimestoppers program, which has been in Honolulu since 1997. Students can receive an award up to $250 if their anonymous tip leads to an arrest.