Profile: Katelyn LeClerc on Internet safety
Katelyn LeClerc, the Internet Safety Program Coordinator, started out in the Corruption, Fraud and Computer Crime Division of the Office of Attorney General Thomas Reilly as an administrative assistant.
Her supervisor, Dana Leccese, was working as the sole Internet Crimes Against Children prosecutor in the division.
Although her job involved prosecuting cases, Ms. Leccese recognized there clearly was a need to take a more proactive stance on Internet safety by the growing number of requests from schools for presentations.
In February 2005, she brainstormed some ideas with Ms. LeClerc, whose background in early childhood education and sociology were a plus in helping develop the Internet safety program for Massachusetts students. In addition to creating school presentations tailored to different age groups from grades K-12, they expanded the Internet safety program to include parents and law enforcement personnel.
"I started off delivering a small presentation, and never stopped," said Ms. LeClerc. "I've trained over 12,000 students over the past year and am now booking into February of 2007."
Ms. LeClerc said she especially enjoys working with kids. Although she considered going into teaching, she wanted to do something a little different, and she
ended up in a job that offers her both outlets.
At 23, Ms. LeClerc can relate to the students as someone who grew up using the Internet, she said. She also is frank about a negative experience she had using the Internet in discussions with older students and parents.
Katelyn LeClerc is the Internet safety program coordinator in the state attorney general's office.
"I met someone online who could have potentially been dangerous, and although I never got to the point of meeting the person, the only reason I stopped was because I had my computer access taken away," Ms. LeClerc said. "My dad was a school principal, who was very strict and involved in my life, and I was very active in school and sports. It can happen to any kid."
With school starting up, Ms. LeClerc will be making three to four presentations a day in schools state-wide, three to four days a week.
She constantly updates the presentations to keep them current, and said no two are alike, because she adapts them to her audience as she goes along.
Over the past year, Ms. LeClerc said she learned that while she assumed communities would differ, she has been surprised by the range of people's reactions and their levels of understanding.
"We've gone to presentations where there have been as many as 300 parents," she said. "What's most upsetting is when I go into schools and don't see every single seat filled. Every parent needs to hear about this."