New Program at WJU Teaches College Kids To Help Younger Kids - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

New Program at WJU Teaches College Kids To Warn Middle School Kids of Online Dangers

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More than ever, middle school kids are being victimized by online bullying and targeted by online predators.

A unique new program at Wheeling Jesuit University is teaching university students to go out and help their younger counterparts to avoid these pitfalls.

Teachers and parents can try to advise kids about online bullies and predators.

But teachers and parents are adults, who may not have the best cyber knowledge themselves.

So the Coalition for Youth Safety trains college students to speak to middle school students because kids will listen to kids.

"I definitely think that they would listen to us more than somebody who's older because we grew up with this and I think we can relate to them more," said Vicki Zanes, WLU student.

The lives of kids bullied or victimized online can end in tragedy.

Then law enforcement gets called in, when it's too late.

"Too often, reactive police work is what we're stuck with," says Sheriff Ralph Fletcher of Hancock County. "If we can head something off in the beginning, before it becomes a problem, then it benefits all. It benefits law enforcement, benefits the community, and in this instance it's going to benefit our children."

State Farm sponsors the program, believing it's always better to prevent a problem than to deal with it afterward.

"How we can open up a dialogue for identifying where the threats come from, best practices that they can use to protect themselves, that's how we can help them out in that arena," said Bethany Strothers Moore, State Farm agent.

Six students at Wheeling Jesuit took the course, and this school year will go out and talk to students in Brooke, Hancock, Ohio and Marshall counties--kids who may be struggling with these issues and thinking that nobody understands.