Namaqua Nets Internet Safety Prize
Updated: Jul 4, 2018
When Alicia Kozakiewicz was just 13, she met a predator online. "I made a really, really big mistake," the now 27-year-old told students at Namaqua Elementary School on Friday. "I met a bad guy online. Thankfully I was rescued by the police." The FBI, to be exact. Agents tracked Kozakiewicz to another state and rescued her from her captor, a man who kidnapped her after meeting her online. After her return to school, she was inspired to make sure other kids were much more careful online and, at age 14, began giving presentations on Internet safety. Her presentation in Loveland on Friday was one of many she now gives internationally, and it was to kick off a program called "Think before you link" — an initiative from Intel Security and Discovery Education. The Loveland school was the grand prize winner of $10,000 from the partnership to help students be more safe online, every day. Parent Kristi Wray entered the local school in a sweepstakes for the grant, and on Friday representatives from the company surprised the school with the award. The students cheered, clapped and even danced in the gym after learning about the award. Advertisement Principal Dan Cox is excited to put the money to good use to teach students ways to be safe and savvy in a world of increasing and evolving technology. "We want to teach them the ethics as well as the understanding of what it means to be a good consumer of technology," said Cox. The school plans to buy materials to teach students about Internet safety, to educate teachers on how to integrate those lessons into their classrooms and to offer informational nights for parents to spread safety into the home as well, according to Cox. "We need to find a way to partner with our school community and our parents to help them, at home, educate their children on safe use of technology," said Cox. On Friday, Kozakiewicz started those lessons with some advice for the students: • Be careful when you choose your screen name. • Know who you are communicating with online. • Remember that photos can put personal information in the hands of predators by what you are wearing (school shirts) and where you are (background). • Know that, no matter what, you can always talk with your parents. "Do you promise to stay safe online?" Kozakiewicz asked to students, who replied with a loud and resounding, "Yes." Now, the school has $10,000 to help.