MERIDIAN -- With cell phones and iPads in the hands of kids, bullying doesn't have to stop when the school day ends. This gives bullies and online predators limitless time to pick on their victims.
Officer David Gomez is the school resource officer at Lewis and Clark Middle School in Meridian. The former Micron engineer says only two to three percent of bullying reports he gets are something other than cyberbullying.
He said many students aim to have hundreds and hundreds of friends.
"It's kind of a status quo to get as many friends as you can," said Gomez. "So I have middle schoolers with 3,000 to 4,000 Facebook friends."
Gomez says the issue is they may not know all of these friends outside of the online world, thus opening themselves up to more bullying and more predators. To see how careful the students are being, Gomez makes fake profiles on various social media sites and friends the students.
"I tease the kids, 'Hey you know that 16-year-old Justin Beiber guy you just friended, that's Officer Gomez,'" he said. "Be lucky it's Officer Gomez and not a cyber predator."
Gomez recommends kids only friend people they know in person, he calls it the 'touch' rule. He also suggests limiting friends or followers to 200 or less. However, Gomez said it's up to parents to make sure their kids are being safe and responsible.
"You have to get educated," he said. "If you're going to give your child a cell phone that has access to the Internet that has predators on the other end of a chat line, you have to educate your kids. You have to speak with them, and you have to do it early, starting at 10."
Gomez said a lot of cell phone companies can give you a full report on phone usage, so you know what your child is doing on their phone. He also recommends charging all the phones in a central location, instead of letting kids take them into their rooms at night.