The picture the young girl saw online was of a handsome 18-year-old high school football player. But that wasn’t who she was talking to.
Instead, it was a 47-year-old man who killed the teenage girl and later committed suicide.
“It’s a tragic story, and might be harsh, but stories like this happen,” Molly McCormick told a class Thursday at La Crescent High School.
McCormick, 21, was among a class of University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students who visited La Crescent students this week as part of their Child Youth Care Capstone Course. They shared stories of the dangers of technology.
The UW-L students are majoring in fields such as psychology, education and sociology, and they all plan to work with at-risk youth after graduation. For their project, the students brainstormed topics that would be of interest to high school and middle school students.
Besides talking to classes, the project involved creating a website, brochures and a video, all used to get their message across.
Earlier in the week, they talked to younger students about the importance of having healthy relationships with friends and family and what to do if physical or verbal abuse is suspected.
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On Thursday, it was all about using technology safely, a subject the college students admitted that they even need reminders about.
McCormick asked the class of juniors how many had accepted a Facebook friendship request from someone they didn’t really know. Most every hand went up, including from the college students.
“Talking to someone online doesn’t mean you know them,” McCormick said.
The college students emphasized the importance of privacy settings and not posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see.
Emily Clairmont, a 16-year-old at La Crescent, said she’s always been pretty careful about sharing information but that the reminder that she and her classmates got Thursday was good.
“I think a lot of people don’t pay attention to what they’re posting online,” Clairmont said. “This helps it hit home.”