Local middle- and high-schoolers may not have known it, but they were in for a shock.

Children as young as second-graders sexting and court cases where teenagers were required to register as sex offenders took students by surprise.

Students filled Papillion La Vista Community Schools auditoriums and gymnasiums alike throughout the day last Thursday to hear a presentation on social media by Karen Haase, an attorney who represents school districts throughout the state.

Haase’s presentation focused on three issues: cyberbullying, sexting and ignoring Internet safety. She highlighted specific law and cases, from both Nebraska and other states, in which students were charged as criminals for their online behavior.

“At first I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Jazsmin Cryer, a senior at Papillion-La Vista South High School and one of roughly 1,600 PLV South students to attend the presentation. “But I’m really glad she came because she answered a lot of questions that we all had.

“I liked that she was very straightforward with us and I think that allowed us to respect her a little bit more.”

Cryer said Haase’s use of specific court cases and outcomes really drove the point home for students. The auditorium bleachers erupted in gasps and whispers on numerous occassions throughout the presentation.

A similar presentation was held for parents that evening, prompted by a similar event held last year. The parent presentation served as the kickoff event for a parenting series hosted by Papillion La Vista Community Schools and funded by the Papillion-La Vista Schools Foundation.

The series continues next month with a presentation on general parenting strategies for secondary students. Carrie Gottschalk, a counselor and mental health practitioner, will present those strategies Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at Papillion-La Vista High School, 402 E. Centennial Road. Gottschalk will then present on general parenting strategies for elementary-age students on March 17 at 6:30 p.m. at PLV.

District staff hope to arrange one other speaker for the series, but information is to be determined.

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