Whether you’re the parent or caregiver of a teen or a concerned community member, the mental health and safety of our middle and high schoolers is on everyone’s mind. On this episode of 3C Amplified we interviewed two people very close to this topic; Scott Pietrzak, an Arizona law enforcement detective who founded Online Safety Specialists and Nikki Kontz, Clinical Director at Teen Lifeline. Between the two of them they have over 30 years’ experience creating safe communities for teens and their families. Listen in as we discuss teen suicide, the potential dangers of online gaming, bullying through social media and texting and how creating an open dialogue, whether it be through Teen Lifeline’s peer-to-peer crisis hotline or Online Safety Specialist’s unique parent and teen classes, empowers youth to make healthy decisions.
Online Safety Specialists (OSS) are dedicated to educating kids (Middle School and above) and their parents on the risks of chatting online and cover a range of topics, such as: Sexting Sextortion, Cyberbullying, Child Luring, Predator Grooming Tactics, The Dark Web, and Common Chat Lingo. This is done through an interactive discussion and PowerPoint that is intended to create a dialogue between the kids and parents to discuss these important issues.
Scott Pietrzak has been with a local Arizona Police Department for over 20 years. He has been a detective for 10 years and has investigated everything from thefts to homicides. He is now a detective with the Computer Forensics Unit and also the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, investigating the crimes covered in the topics discussed in his presentations.
He has a Bachelors of Science in Adult and Technical Education through Northern Arizona University and is also an instructor at the Police Academy. Scott was also in the Military Police and a was Paratrooper in the US Army.
Teen Lifeline is a Phoenix-based, 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a safe, confidential and crucial crisis intervention service for teens throughout Arizona. Teen Lifeline strives to impact the devastating problem of teen suicide and empower youths to make healthy decisions through its peer-to-peer crisis hotline and text messaging service, Life Skills Development Training for teen volunteers, and Community Education, Prevention and Postvention services.
Established in 1986, Teen Lifeline is accredited through the American Association of Suicidology. The service operates 24/7/365 with trained, volunteer peer counselors between the ages of 15-19 answering phones from the hours of 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Calls received during other hours of the day and night are answered by Crisis Response Network. During calendar year 2017, Teen Lifeline answered more than 20,000 calls.
For more information, visit TeenLifeline.org. For help, call or text Teen Lifeline at (602) 248-TEEN (8336) or (800) 248-TEEN.
Nikki Kontz, LMSW, is the Clinical Director for Teen Lifeline, a local non-profit dedicated to providing a safe, confidential and crucial crisis service where teens help teens make healthy decisions. She has been working in the field for the past 17 years including work on a crisis mobile team, postvention intervention and assessment for hospitalization. Nikki possesses a Master Degree in Social Work from Arizona State University and specializes in mental health issues, crisis intervention, suicide prevention/postvention and education, and adolescence. She currently is a state Licensed Master Social Worker, a certified crisis worker through the American Association of Suicidology, field instructor for the Social Work Department at ASU, and serves as the President on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Suicide Prevention Coalition.