In The News
Connect With Respect
Connect with Respect
A "Pledge for Good"
In the U.S., A Platform for Good - a project of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) - is recognizing Safer Internet Day by launching a "Pledge for Good." On their site, you have the opportunity to make a simple pledge: "I will use my power for good." The purpose of the pledge is not to change behavior, but to highlight what great things people are already doing with technology. In celebration of Safer Internet Day, I encourage you and your family to join in and take the pledge. Let the world know that online technology is a platform for good. You can also check out their online safety resources in their Resource Center.
For more information or to report a website visit www.iwf.org.uk.
Amanda began her story in 7th grade at age 12 when she flashed an unknown man via a webcam chat. She goes on to explain how this one action lead to a series of events that included the unknown man sending the snagged photo to everyone she knew. Amanda recounts the relentless stalking and harassment she faced as she tried to move on. She ended her story by asking for help – in her own words, "I have nobody. I need someone." Amanda ended her life on October 10, 2012 at age 15.
Amanda's story is tragic. It's crucial for kids to understand that growing up online – taking risks and pushing boundaries – could bring unforeseen consequences if someone records and reveals those actions to others. In Amanda's case, she was stalked and exploited; and the online stalker's actions were exacerbated by the bullying behaviors of some of her peers. If Amanda felt as though she had a friend – someone - her story may have ended differently. It's a clear message that we can no longer be bystanders. If we witness bullying, we need to offer help whether we take action ourselves or seek out someone who can.
As Amanda's video spreads, take a moment to talk to your children about her story. Here are some talking points that may help your discussion:
• Friends of friends are actually strangers. Social networking enables you to share large amounts of information which could pose risks when shared with someone you don't really know.
• Be cautious of what you post and share with others. Once you share content - pictures, videos, stories, artwork or any other originally created work - with just one person online, you relinquish control over its potential distribution and use.
• Webcams are a window into your world so be careful of who you let in. Dress and behave as you would when having a friend over. Always remember images can be snagged and shared.
• Remember to have respect for each other - online or offline. It's not okay to say hurtful things to someone just because they can't see you and you can't see them. Every user ID or avatar represents a person so think before you post. Ask yourself how you would feel on the other side.
• Don't be a bystander. If you see someone who is being bullied, take action. And, if you don't feel as though you can intervene directly for fear of retribution or simply not knowing what to do, go seek the help of a trusted adult so that they can step in.
• If you are being bullied:
1) Keep the digital evidence (you may need it if the behavior escalates).
2) Block the bully (privacy preferences typically allow users to block others in chat, e-mail, instant messaging and even on social networks).
3) Tell a trusted adult.
4) Report it to the service provider (most have policies against harassment).
5) Report it to the school if it carries over into that environment.
6) If the bullying escalates to threats of physical harm, report it to law enforcement.
Learn more about bullying at: StopBullying.gov
A photo of little Etan, taken by his father, circulated worldwide in the search that ensued. It was Etan's photo - the image of an innocent little boy – that caught the attention of the nation and helped raise awareness of the issue of missing children. His disappearance, along with a number of other high-profile cases of missing children in the late 70's and early 80's, including Adam Walsh, showed us how ill-prepared we were as a nation to quickly identify and assemble resources in an effort to locate a missing child. These cases became a catalyst for change that brought about a national commitment to help locate and recover missing children. This commitment can be seen most notably today through the work of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
National Missing Children's Day serves as a reminder of our continued commitment, including our role in making child safety a priority.
A Time to Take 25
In honor of National Missing Children's Day, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recognizes Take 25, an annual campaign designed to raise awareness of of children's personal safety issues. Take 25 encourages parents, guardians, caregivers and others to spend time talking to kids about their personal safety at home, school, online or when they are just out and about.
Up until a few years ago, I'd never heard much about teen dating abuse and violence and wrongly assumed it was mainly limited to adult relationships. I just didn't realize how prevalent it was among our youth. But, it starts somewhere and that is often with young people who are entering into relationships for the very first time. They often mimic the behaviors they've seen growing up. And, because they're new to relationships, young people can misinterpret controlling as caring, and not understand the warning signals of abuse until it is out of control. To understand the severity of the problem, the CDC reports that one in ten high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. This statistic only reflects physical violence. If we include emotional and verbal abuse in teen dating relationships, the stat jumps to one in three teens.
Digital Dating Abuse
A rising trend in dating abuse is the use of technology to harass, threaten and control the dating partner from a distance – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Through the use of technology such as cell phones, email, and social networking, the abuser can gain access into what once were safe havens for the abused partner - school, extra-curricular activities and home - to apply a relentless barrage of insults and/or demands that are not visible to parents or other adult caregivers. Digital dating abuse can include:
• Checking the dating partner's cell phone for outgoing and incoming calls, texts and images.
• Controlling the dating partner's friends on social networking sites.
• Demanding or stealing the dating partner's account passwords to keep tabs on them.
• Pressuring or demanding the dating partner share sexually explicit images and/or videos of themselves.
• Constantly texting the dating partner to find out where they are and what they are doing (the abused partner often feels obligated to have their cell phones with them at all times so they can respond quickly for fear of being punished).
• Insulting or threatening the dating partner through emails, texts, tweets, and even status updates.
–How to parent Facebook users,
–Managing reputation in the digital age,
–Actual risks in social media
–Managing your privacy on Facebook,
The Parents Guide can be found at: http://www.ikeepsafe.org/parents/parents-guide-to-facebook/.
Safer Internet Day enters its 9th year with the theme "Connecting generations and educating each other", where users young and old are encouraged to "discover the digital world together...safely"! Never has it been more important for parents and other care givers to play a role in the lives of young people and their use of technology as it is today. Being online, or being connected, has become so intricately woven through the daily lives of our children that the distinction between online and offline is nil – we need to parent in that world.
'Parents' and Carers' Guide to the Internet'
In contributing to Safer Internet Day and to help get you started , the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre today launched the 'Parents' and Carers' Guide to the Internet' - a short, entertaining TV-style program looking at what it's like to bring up children in the online world. You can watch this program online to help you:
• stay up-to-date with the technology your children are using;
• understand steps you can take to keep your children safe online; and
• know what action to take and where to seek further support if things go wrong.
Visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents to watch the program and access information on how to keep your family safe online.
Read the full story here.
The IWF was launched on December 1, 1996 as an independent self-regulating body funded by the European Union and member companies from the online industry. It serves as the UK reporting Hotline for images of child sexual abuse hosted anywhere in the world and UK-hosted extreme adult pornography and non-photographic images of child sexual abuse.
When child sexual abuse content is found and hosted within the UK, it is shared with the police and removed within hours. When it is hosted abroad, it is shared with a corresponding Hotline in the host country and with law enforcement.
The Internet Watch Foundation marks 15 years
To coincide with Awareness Day, the IWF is celebrating its 15th anniversary. There have been a number of milestones that mark both the growth and the progress of the organization since it first launched in 1996.
- In 1996 the IWF had five funding members. Now they have more than 100.
- They started out with just four staff and a UK focus. They now have 16 employees and a global influence tackling online child sexual abuse images.
- The number of web addresses reported to the IWF has increased enormously. In their first year they had assessed 1,300 URLs. In 2010 they assessed more than 48,000.
- In 2005 they received their 100,000th report to the Hotline.
- A total of 87,000 child sexual abuse webpages have been removed in 15 years.
The IWF will only continue to grow and adapt as they work to combat child sexual abuse content on the Internet regardless of where it is hosted. They are committed to reducing the availability of such content which helps to prevent the revictimization of the children involved and to protect us, the general public, from coming across such horrific content. This is their priority.
To learn more about the IWF, see http://www.iwf.org.uk/.
Most parents worry about their children social networking via personal computers, smartphones, and iPod devices. Most schools also worry about children social networking during English, Biology, and History. As a result, many schools have banned Facebook and social networking websites on school computers. However, children have found multiple ways to sidestep this ban and access Facebook through the use of proxy servers.
Tech savvy students have found websites that contain step by step instructions to unblocking Facebook and MySpace on school computers. A few such websites include unblock.biz and proxypimp.com. Through the use of these websites, students can mystify teachers and parents alike.
Although school administrators and teachers cannot always ensure that students use school computers for educational purposes, parents can encourage them to do so. Talk to your middle schooler and designate limits on computer usage at home, under parental supervision. Some schools have also taken the initiative to educate students about social networking safely, instead of placing bans and blocks.
Social networking is a concerning issue for many parents. Ease your concerns by educating your child regularly about cyber safety.
The Internet Education Foundation (IEF) today announced the launch of "Net Safety Tips On The Go" (Net Safety Tips OTG), the first-ever digital safety and security advice app for wireless users. Developed with the support of Google and Verizon, this innovative app makes it easy for consumers and families to keep up with mobile and online privacy, safety, and security issues using their Android smartphone or tablet.
The app dispenses quick, practical, friendly advice in easy-to-digest portions - one tip at a time - to help users use the Internet and smartphones safely. These tips offer information on mobile privacy and security, searching and surfing the Web safely, safeguarding your sensitive financial online information and more. The premier online safety education organizations in the world including Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely.org, OnGuardOnline.gov, and GetNetWise.org produce content to feed the app. Other leading online safety, security and privacy organizations are expected to contribute soon.
"Mobile broadband technology provides limitless opportunities for fun, education and entertainment for everyone," said Rose Kirk, Verizon Foundation president. "To make the most of these opportunities, families need to feel comfortable online. Tools such as Net Safety Tips On The Go help provide families peace of mind, knowing they have the knowledge needed to be safe and secure in the digital world."
Mobile app-based education allows busy people to be more personally productive during their hectic days making Net Safety OTG the perfect tool to educate them. "This app is a terrific idea, especially for people whose lives revolve around their phones," noted Larry Magid, Internet safety pioneer and co-director of ConnectSafely.org. "Everything is going mobile, and now we have put crucial online safety and security education in the hands of anyone with an Android phone or tablet," said Tim Lordan, IEF Executive Director.
Net Safety Tips OTG is available as a free download from the Android Market™ and is featured in the Verizon tab of the Android Market™ on Verizon Wireless smartphones. Visit http://netsafetyapp.org for more information, sample tips and download information.
Like many parents, my biggest fear is of something awful happening to my child. It was heartening to me when I first heard that MapQuest and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) recently announced the availability of a new widget on MapQuest Local that includes valuable missing child alerts and information from NCMEC.
The new widget features pictures and information about children who are missing from the geographic area for which the MapQuest Local page is set. Also included is the ability to search for missing children by name and link directly to NCMEC's homepage and other missing children resources from NCMEC. The new widget can be found at http://local.mapquest.com