MORRIS COUNTY — Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Samantha DeNegri and Sergeant Patrick LaGuerre recently visited the middle schoolers at Memorial Junior High School in the Hanover Township district on March 2 and at the Jefferson Township Middle and High Schools on March 7. Together, they led a presentation on bias incidents, cyber harassment, and making smart choices about social media.
The presenters stressed exercising good judgment regarding how you interact with others or what you post on social media, adding this applies to videos or images utilizing song lyrics or meme-ified language. How you conduct yourself online could potentially impact your future.
Social media and technology today document everything. SAP DeNegri explained that taking or sharing explicit photos can lead to legal ramifications and may be viewed/shared by people other than you intended to receive it. She cautioned students often regret taking such pictures as they don’t remain private, adding the MCPO would not hesitate to prosecute those who maliciously share such material.
Sgt. LaGuerre explained the difference between bias crimes and bias incidents, cautioning students that their school administrators can choose to take disciplinary action even if an incident isn’t considered criminal. Having your name associated with a bias incident and the documentation that goes with it can unfortunately follow you into life beyond school.
SAP DeNegri said Morris County takes a zero-tolerance approach to threats of violence, even when students claim their comments were intended as a joke.
The MCPO routinely conducts presentations at public and private schools throughout Morris County to present on these important topics and to talk directly with students. Over the past year, they’ve conducted over a dozen such assemblies in Morris, Warren, and Sussex counties.
Salem County Prosecutor’s Office members attended the Memorial Junior High assembly to learn about and bring the program back to Salem County students.
During the presentations in Jefferson Township, members of the Morris County NAACP attended to learn about the MCPO’s outreach program.
Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll said, “I hope our colleagues from the Salem County Prosecutor’s Office and community partners at the Morris County NAACP found the presentations informative and useful. In an age of oversaturated digital communication, the MCPO uses face-to-face visits to make a genuine connection with our students. We want our young people to make smart choices about interacting online and in person.”