Wheeling Jesuit University Criminal Justice Majors Attend Conference

Wheeling Jesuit University’s Coalition for Youth Safety was in the national spotlight during a recent criminal justice conference.

Larry Driscoll, associate professor of criminal justice at WJU, along with eight students, attended the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in Kansas City, Mo., last month, where they presented information on the CYS program to thousands of university officials.

Launched four years ago, CYS teaches middle school students the risks and dangers that exist online. Through funding from State Farm, WJU criminal justice majors teach fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders in schools throughout Brooke, Hancock and Ohio counties about internet safety and online bullying dangers.

During the conference, Rikki Allen, Chris Estrada, Paige Gaydos, Kori Hickman, Jake Lilly, Collin Smith, Zack Stramanak and Markie Wright, gave an overview of the program, while presenting data gathered in the first three years of the CYS program, Driscoll said.

The students sifted through some 1,000 surveys from the middle school students and “found that the students are more aware of the dangers that exist online and can distinguish which situations are inappropriate and the need to report those to adults,” he added.

State Farm has been a supporter of CYS since it began in 2013. The company recently told Driscoll it will provide funding to continue the Coalition for Youth Safety in the coming year.

Since the Coalition for Youth Safety began in 2013, WJU criminal justice students have presented the program to more than 1,500 middle school students throughout the Ohio Valley. Initially geared toward seventh- and eighth-graders, Driscoll said the program is being presented to younger students.