Mother gives talk to Risedale pupils on son’s murder

From left, Sergeant Stewart Gardiner, Colin Scott, Lorin LaFave and Sally Zaranko.

A mother whose son was groomed and murdered by another teenager has given a hard-hitting talk to pupils at Risedale Sports and Community College about online safety.

Lorin LaFave launched The Breck Foundation after her son Breck Bednar was killed in 2014 by an 18-year-old youth he met while playing online computer games.

Lorin visited the school this week to talk to pupils about her experiences and encourage young people to stay safe while online.

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The foundation’s message to children is: “Always remember that the friends that are made online are not like your real friends”.

Lorin said: “It was great to visit Risedale. The students were really engaged and listened so respectfully and attentively.

“A moment that will really stick in my mind was at lunchtime when I sat outside in the sun on the picnic benches and some of the students asked if they could come and join me.

“It was so refreshing to talk to them on a one-to-one basis as I’m so used to presenting to big audiences.

“After some courteous hesitancy the students really started to open up and talked very sensitively and honestly with me asking some very thoughtful questions.

“I could tell they had really listened and genuinely wanted to know more. It was a real pleasure to share Breck’s story at Risedale.”

The event was coordinated by Risedale assistant principal and SENCO, Sally Zaranko alongside vice chair of governors/safeguarding link, Sergeant Stewart Gardiner, from the Army Welfare Service.

Lorin gave four presentations throughout the day to all the students at Risedale and later to staff, parents and colleagues from other schools.

Each presentation was tailored to the particular audience and age range with different visuals and key focus points for them to consider.

For some of the older students Lorin showed a video clip which included actual interviews with Breck’s friends and their reflections on what happened to him.

Risedale principal Colin Scott said: “This has been an invaluable and personal insight into a very tragic story that has lessons for all of us to learn from in regards to the potential dangers children can encounter online and how important it is for us all to be better informed to safeguard our young people.

“I am so grateful to Lorin for visiting Risedale and speaking with our students, staff and community about this very important issue.”