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Community meeting planned in wake of teens’ suicides

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 5:03 PM EDT
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MASSENA, N.Y. (WWNY) - A community begins to talk after two teens, victimized on the internet, take their own lives. That conversation starts April 28.

No one should have to go through this. That’s why Riley Basford’s parents went public. Their 15-year-old son was the victim of internet predators.

And it’s why 18-year-old Shylynn Dixon’s guardian did the same after her suicide. They hoped it would get others talking. It has.

“It’s really creating an open conversation,” said Kristin Colarusso-Martin, Massena community schools director. “How do we stop this? How do we take are of our kids and protect our kids?”

That conversation is about to become even bigger. The Massena Central School District is hosting an online community meeting to come up with ways to prevent online child exploitation.

“Anytime you have tragedy, it is also a learning opportunity,” said Patrick Brady, district superintendent. “Our role as educators is to keep students safe.”

Parents and others across St. Lawrence County are signing up - 150 in the first two days. They do that via the district’s homepage or Facebook page. The online meeting takes place 6 to 7:30 p.m. April 28.

“In addition to teaching them how to look out for the bad guys, we teach them how to be their best self so that they aren’t in situations that are scary or make them feel like they need to take their life,” said Mary Rodee, mother of Riley Basford.

The April 28 forum will be done in partnership with several other community groups and organizers are vowing it won’t be the last effort.

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