Nova Scotia

2nd Truro online safety study shows no change

For the second year in row, Truro police have conducted a study that shows young people, even children, are continuing to post personal information that could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

For the second year in row, Truro police have conducted a study that shows young people, even children, are continuing to post personal information that could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Truro police hired a university student to create a fictitious male and female profile.

The "student" then went in search of friends on a school fan page — a site that was set up, but not monitored by — the school.

The study found:

-241 young people accepted the friend request from someone they didn't know

-The average age was between 11-15 with one person as young as nine

-All posted personal pictures, including shots of girls in bikinis

-60 per cent disclosed they were home alone or away on vacation

-75 posted cell numbers

-23 disclosed their home addresses

-140 provided info that could lead to them being traced, lured or kidnapped

Truro Const. Todd Taylor said he thought publicity about last year's study  would alert people to the dangers.

"We hoped it might affect some change but we've discovered nothing has changed."

He said there are many parents that are "oblivious" to what their children are doing online, and with the popularity and low prices for smartphones, 24/7 access on mobile social media sites makes it hard for parents to keep up.

Police also looked at bullying online, especially on the social media site Formspring — where there are many graphic examples of it.

Kenzie Adams spends a fair amount of time online. The 15-year-old said she sees the type of bullying which caused four Nova Scotian teenagers to commit suicide in the past year.

She said it's regular kids who are doing it.

"I don't think they're bad kids. I think they're doing it because they can get away with it," said Adams.

Police say the only way to get a handle on young people posting personal information is educating parents and children about the dangers.

As for bullying, they feel it may require legislation to make account holders responsible for what is posted from their site.

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