POINT PLEASANT — R. Booth Goodwin certainly made an entrance Tuesday morning as he swooped onto the grounds of Point Pleasant High School in a Black Hawk helicopter.
Principal Bill Cottrill and several Sheriff’s deputies waited on the lawn to welcome Goodwin, who is the US Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, and members of the Army National Guard. Cottrill said that Goodwin was visiting the school to address its seventh through twelfth-graders about the hazards of drug use, Internet bullying, and befriending strangers on social media.
“When you’re online,” Goodwin said to the assembled students, “unless you’ve met the person face-to-face, you don’t know who you’re talking to.”
He provided examples, including a story about a 13 year-old young girl whose Internet acquaintance persuaded her to meet in person, and who was abducted and held in a basement for four days.
Goodwin talked about the fact that school bullying has been magnified by students’ access to the web, saying that a nasty comment or embarrassing picture doesn’t go away and is visible to any number of people for an indefinite time.
“The Internet can be such a powerful tool for bad as well as good,” Goodwin said. “Don’t say or do anything on social media that you wouldn’t say or do in person.”
He added that 75 percent of school shootings had been linked to bullying of some kind.
Goodwin was accompanied by Major General James Hoyer of the West Virginia Joint Forces, and Charleston Police Lieutenant Chad Napier. Hoyer talked to the students about the importance of avoiding drugs and encouraged them to pursue worthwhile endeavors instead.
Napier addressed different types of street drugs and their respective dangers, including “Molly,” another name for Ecstasy or MDMA, which has been popularized, he said, in media and music aimed at young people. He showed the students videos to illustrate the misery that drugs can cause within a family and a community; he commented that once a young person starts down the road of drug use, it is difficult to turn around.
“It’s devastating,” Napier said.