5 ways social media can prevent youth violence

Build positive relationships with technology and your community will become a safer place

"A mass shooting like you saw at Safeway has been stopped in Toronto because of relationships built with technology," Constable for the Toronto Police Service Scott Mills said at the SMILE Conference Tuesday.

"In a timely way, [a member of the community was] able to reach out to an officer on Facebook, which happened to be me. We ended up doing an investigation and we ended up apprehending the person."

The Toronto Police Service is on the forefront of social media in law enforcement and Mills is currently their Social Media Officer. He shared five keys for departments to build positive relationships with technology in ways that will make the community safe.

  • Key 1 - Adult mentorship in real life must be continued into the cyber world to prevent societal violence.
  • Key 2 - Paradigm shift from the legal liability model to a policy driven by the relationship/technology approach. This is essential for future community safety. Also, stop blocking social media! (Departments who block these sites are robbing their officers of a valuable tool)
  • Key 3 - Relationship and trust between adults and youth are key to the prevention of bullying, gangs, suicides, threatening bodily harm/death, sexting, online intimidation, terrorism, shootings.
  • Key 4 – Adults include parents, teachers, school, administrators, police, social workers, justice system workers, and correctional staff.
  • Key 5 – Social media is a vehicle for sustainable, connected relationships that create trust which fosters reporting of concerns of violence to be dealt with by authorities BEFORE mass shootings/bombing/bullying/gang involvement/ suicide.

"When we got that call, it wasn't, 'I better get my gun;' it was 'I better get the charger for my Blackberry,'" he said. "If we didn’t have relationships and technology and social media, you might be reading about that [potential incident] around the world."

"It’s our duty to prevent."

About the author

PoliceOne Editorial Assistant Justin Cox is responsible for gathering, editing, and posting the website’s daily news content. Using a variety of news subscription services as well as police sources out on the streets, Justin closely follows all issues related to public safety and law enforcement issues. In addition to his daily news responsibilities, Justin observes and pursues the hottest topics for feature columns and articles, with a special focus stories about the men and women who walk the thin blue line.

Contact Justin Cox.

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