Local youth were warned about the dangers of social media, bullying, gangs, drugs and suicide during the Red Feather Conference at Sucker Creek First Nation on April 19-20.
Lakeshore Regional Police Service hosted the event with several speakers about the various issues youth face.
“We addressed concerns and issues we have been advised about by community leaders and youth and we want to empower youth to give them the right tools to make wise decisions,” says Cst. Cory Cardinal, who organized the event, for junior high school students on the first day followed by senior high students.
“Do onto others what you would have them do to you” was the main principle presented by main speaker Dwayne Peace, an educational consultant with Life Synergy for Youth and a retired police officer.
“Let that be your theme in life.”
He also advised students to respect others and create positive messages.
“If we could eliminate rumours, gossip and drama in schools, we would have a lot more safer schools,” Peace says.
Digital dangers and harassment were prominent in his presentations.
“Be careful what you tell and show people, especially with Iphones and smart phones,” Peace says.
“Just because you have a smart phone, it doesn’t mean you are a smart person.”
Information and images are far-reaching and negative or disrespectful content has lasting risks.
“It creates a public and permanent record,” Peace says.
He also used the old saying that whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
“Whatever happens in Vegas, stays on Facebook, You Tube, and Twitter…………forever,” Peace says.
“I don’t think you should have a cell phone at school, period,” Peace says.
“Cameras at parties are dangerous.”
Out of stupidity, and poor judgment, youth can make bad decision and get images of themselves in uncompromising positions and situations.
For anyone considering exposing their bodies for lewd and nude photographs, “you don’t let anybody extort you, sextort you,” Peace says.
Bullying was another hot topic.
Students being bullied often ask why it’s happening to them.
“It’s the bully who has the issues, it’s not them,” Peace says.
“When you say something that’s mean, rude or disrespectful, you need to apologize.”
Television and the entertainment world have negatively influenced children and youth in many ways.
TV comedy shows have laugh tracks where the sound follows something that is done or said that it mean, rude, or disrespectful and that sends the wrong message, he say.
Lakeshore Cst. Elias Cunningham shared about the drug fentanyl.
“It is 100 times more powerful than morphine and heroin,” Cunningham says.
“It’s being laced with other street drugs and it’s happening all over Alberta and Canada.”
Police remain vigilant to monitor and control the drug.
“We are starting to see more and more fentanyl,” Cst. Cardinal says.
“This is one we want to target because it’s the most dangerous drugs.”
Former Faust RCMP Cst. Perry Cardinal also offered advice about drugs and gangs, with more than 20 years in policing.
“You’ve got to be careful what you wear,” says Cardinal, who started his career in 1998 with Faust RCMP where he served for almost eight years.
He advised youth to stay away from during and gangs and images related to them.
“You represent something we don’t want in schools,” Cardinal says.
For adults, he recommends adults and community leaders get youth involved in good healthy and positive activities and held younger people who are in trouble.