Students get a refresher course on Internet safety

Josh Heggem

By Per Peterson

Kristi Hastings

Silver linings from the pandemic that hit two years ago are few and far between. However, there is one area that saw a sharp decline for the better.

Attorneys Josh Heggem and Kristi Hastings, who work for the Pemberton Law Firm based out of Fergus Falls, visited Tracy Area High School last Tuesday to talk to students about being safe on the Internet.

They said school expulsions resulting from things like cyberbullying declined drastically during the pandemic. Unfortunately, with the return of kids to school, the social media plight among youth has returned in full force.

“I think the pandemic made a dent in this issue,” Hastings said. “Everyone went home and separated … we had a time where we didn’t have any expulsions for about 18 months. That has all picked up again. I feel like we had a reprieve, and now we’re back to where we were before.”

Heggem and Hastings have been giving their presentation to schools for four years. The pair had for years been training school employees on social media issues before deciding to involve kids as well.

“At some point, Kristi was like, ‘Why aren’t we talking to kids about this,’ because we’re seeing so many issues with kids. And dealing with it on the back end is really no fun at all. By being proactive about this, maybe we can give them some tools to deal with it before they encounter it.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.