BEDFORD, Va. – When Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown and his wife Janet started Cyber SWAT, a program to promote internet safety for teenagers, they didn’t imagine it going global.
“Quite frankly, I was hoping. But did I see it coming as quick as it came? No,” Mike Brown said.
Nearly three years since it began, the Browns’ program is making an international impact.
The pair recently went to the Vatican to talk about Cyber SWAT.
And on Wednesday they met with another potential sponsor.
“This individual would like to see this program in Canada. He’s from Canada. But it is international,” Mike Brown said.
Jefferson Forest High School students were the first to help launch the peer-to-peer program.
“Sexting was one of the first they did. But I think they’re probably going to be looking at other things as well,” Janet Brown said. “They’ve had success drawing attention to it and shedding a light on it. And doing it in such a way the young people are paying attention to it. That’s what we’re after.”
This fall, the couple are preparing to launch Cyber SWAT in eight different schools across the United States.
“West Virginia. It will be in Ohio. It will be up in Illinois,” Mike Brown said.
For the first time they showed 10 News the new look of the Cyber SWAT packet inquiring schools will receive in the mail.
Janet Brown read off one of the cards that says: “To think before you post. Respect other people online. Just some basic ideas on how to be safe. It includes cyber bullying.”
The Browns say it’s clinically proven teens listen and do best when they hear from their peers.
In the end, they say it’s about saving young people’s lives and reputations.
“They know what young people are doing and they understand that. And they understand the technology often better times than parents and grandparents do,” Janet Brown said.
“Right now, we think it is working. It’s working great,” Mike Brown said.