Trinity Mount Ministries

Showing posts with label schools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label schools. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

THORN - Keeping your kids safe online in the age of COVID: Usable tips for parents - PARENTING PREVENTION

By James, Thorn Staff 

As a parent, I’m concerned.
Not only am I worried about my family’s health in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic, but I’m figuring out how to run a school out of my dining room, learning how to work with my spouse a few feet away from me at all times, and my cat needs ear drops twice a day.
Since I work at Thorn, I’m also acutely aware of the fact that children are spending way more time online—at least 50% more time on screens for ages 6-12—and now I’m hearing about Zoombombing, where nefarious users hack into Zoom sessions, including elementary school lessons, to share abusive content. I’m not used to hearing about child safety from the news — I usually hear it from my team first. But these days, we’re all in this together.
I know I need to have some really important and difficult conversations with my child about staying safe online right now. Parenting a child with both special needs and a proclivity for technology, I’m constantly striving to balance keeping their digital experience safe while adjusting to a sudden increase in our reliance on technology as a family.

I recognize that I sit in a privileged position in the grand scheme of things, being able to continue working remotely on a mission that I care deeply about. But regardless of where we are in the world or what our daily lives look like right now, parents the world over are facing the same dilemma as me: how do I keep my child safe online — not only right now, but in a future that is based in technology?
My colleagues at Thorn, and our partners in the child-safety community, have been developing and sharing resources that make both my day-to-day parental duties and those tough conversations a little less intimidating.
My hope is that these tips are approachable, pragmatic, and helpful, and in no way act as a source of stress for caregivers that already have a lot to balance.
Here’s how to start thinking about, talking about, and addressing online child safety with your kids in the age of COVID-19:

Ask your kids to teach you about their favorite apps

Cropped image of father and son in casual clothes using smartphones and smiling while sitting on couch at homeAdobe//georgerudy
For children that have their own devices, this is the perfect time to ask about the apps and games they use the most. But don’t stop there: take it a step further and let your kids actually show you how to download and use their favorite apps and games.
By letting your child become the teacher, it gives you a chance to hear directly from them how, when, and why they use these apps. You are invited into their world and see it through their eyes. And most importantly, you’ll see how the games work, where it’s easy to meet new people, which behaviors are risky and which aren’t, so you can help your child navigate their digital world.
This is critical information that takes guesswork out of the equation and also reveals where safety issues might arise. Now when you have conversations with your kids about online safety, you’ll be able to speak their language.

Participate in online trends with your kids

You’ve heard of TikTok, but have you completed the latest viral challenge?
Ask your kids about the viral challenges they’re seeing on TikTok and which one you can do together. That might mean acting a bit silly or feeling a little awkward at first, but it’s both great bonding time and an opportunity to learn more about the platform.
Again, let your kids lead the way here. It’s a chance for them to teach you something, which they don’t often get to do, and a fun way to spend time together while still allowing the kids to interact with technology.

Talk to your kids about sharing content

Times have changed, and just as many adults share suggestive pictures with their partners, sexting is also more common among youth. One recent survey found that as many as 40% of kids are exposed to a sext by the age of 14.
That means content sharing of nude or partially nude images isn’t just an issue that applies to teenagers, but something any child interacting with a device should be aware of.
As a parent, I know just how uncomfortable and awkward this conversation can be. Thankfully, has some excellent resources for caregivers on how to start the conversation. There’s also important information on what to do if your child has had an image of themself shared beyond the intended recipient without their consent, and the next steps to take.
Check out the Stop Sextortion site for more ideas to explain the risks of self-generated content.

Know the words “sextortion” and “grooming”

We’ll go into these in more depth in future posts, but sextortion and grooming are two important risks for you to know when keeping kids safe online.
Grooming refers to the tactics used by online predators to convince or coerce children into making and sharing sexually exploitative content. Grooming can take a variety of forms, but hinges on creating trust and leveraging vulnerabilities.
Sextortion refers to the coercion that can happen after that content is produced. For example, through grooming a child may be convinced to share a nude, partially nude, or sexually suggestive image of themself, which predators then use as leverage to coerce a child into further sexual exploitation. This could take the form of a predator pretending to be a child’s peer through text chat, gaining their trust and coercing them to share an image. Once that one image is shared, predators use it as leverage to coerce them into sharing more.
One easy way to get the conversation started? Tell younger kids that if they ever receive a message or interaction from someone they don’t know on any platform, from video games to social media or texts, to never respond and come straight to you.
We’re looking forward to diving into these topics and sharing directly from our team of experts over the coming months. Subscribe to our emails below and follow us on social media to be the first to see our future deep dives on these topics.

Become your kids’ safety net

kids in front of ipadAdobe// ulza
For older children in particular, but young ones as well, make sure they know you’re a safe person to come to, even if the thought of them sharing content makes you feel afraid or frustrated.
I think of how my parents always told us that if we were ever in a situation where people were drinking and we needed a ride home, to call them and they would pick us up no questions asked. This message was coupled with frank conversations about the risks of drinking, and about my parents expectations that I not be drinking, but I felt safe enough to ask for help when I needed it. I trusted that I had a safety net.
Make sure your kids know you’re a safety net. And also make sure they’re aware of resources like the Crisis Text Line, where kids can go if they don’t feel comfortable approaching adults.

Make sure classroom video meetings (and peer video chats) are secure

Schools are doing an exceptional job pivoting to remote learning, but with so much going on it can be easy to miss some key steps in keeping everything secure. And some companies have been caught off guard by the massive increase in users which have in turn exposed security flaws.
You can help by keeping an eye out for some basic security practices:
  • Ensure video chats are always private, and when possible, password protected.
  • Never reuse the same meeting ID or password.
  • Send video conference links just before the meeting starts.
  • Don’t share meeting links outside of private messages (like emails or texts, and make sure your email password and that of whoever you’re sending to is secure).
  • Designate someone to be the meeting supervisor, who will manage participants and watch for uninvited guests. For most conferencing apps this will default to whoever set up the meeting.
  • Ensure everyone has installed the most up-to-date version of the app. Zoom, for example, has recently been adding new security features every few days.
Make sure schools and your kids are using these basic security protocols for video chats—and talk to them if you find they aren’t. We’re all in this together, and shared knowledge can make the whole community safer.

Report abuse content and sextortion—and never share it

No matter where, when, or how it happens, if you or your kids come across CSAM, report it. If you’re not sure what constitutes CSAM, it is legally defined as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (a person less than 18 years old). This can include images, video, audio, and any other content type.
You should report it to whichever platform you find it on, and be sure to also report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC is the clearinghouse for all reports of CSAM, but they also field reports from online platforms. Cover all your bases in this case.
And remember: never share abuse content, even if you’re trying to report it. It’s actually illegal, no matter your intentions, and can keep the cycle of abuse going.

Use existing resources

  • NCMEC’s Netsmartz cartoon is a great way for young children to learn about staying safe online while also being entertained.
  • The Zero Abuse Project has compiled 25 tips for responding to child abuse during a pandemic.
  • Child Rescue Coalition has some additional tips for keeping Zoom meetings safe.
  • The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children has compiled useful, evidence-based resources for positive parenting during a pandemic.
  • Common Sense Media can help to provide guidance for parents on apps, games, and websites.
  • The Family Online Safety Institute has developed resources for digital parenting.
  • And if anxiety is high and you or your kids just need to talk to someone, you can contact the Crisis Text Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a remote organization, they are well equipped to connect you or your kids to resources, whether they need help with a potentially abusive situation or just feel anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Start the conversation wherever you’re most comfortable – but start it

Portrait of family taking a selfie together with mobile phone at home. Family and lifestyle concept.Adobe//Mego-studio
Online safety is an ongoing conversation that will likely change and grow as quickly as your kids. It’s not always easy to broach these topics, but starting wherever you are most comfortable and taking it in steps can help.
These conversations can happen more organically if you’re spending time with them on the apps they use and showing interest in learning about the virtual world in which all of our children are growing up.
Importantly, one instance in which you should react immediately is if you discover CSAM content or find that your child’s images have been shared without their consent. Reporting content as quickly as possible can help mitigate long-term harm. For more info on getting content removed, check out NCMEC’s guide.

The new normal

Parenting is really different today than it was a few months ago, and it’s going to be that way for a significant amount of time. We’re not always going to have all the answers, and just being here and learning more is a great first step.
We’re all in this together, and together we will be able to best defend our children from online sexual abuse. You are not only a part of a global ecosystem of parents and caregivers, but a community of people dedicated to eliminating child sexual abuse from the internet, which Thorn and our partners work toward every single day.
No matter what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it, thank you for being a defender of happiness and being willing to learn more.
If you want to stay up to speed on all things Thorn and how we will be responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, please sign up to receive our emails below..

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Nutrition Crisis Looms as Pandemic Cuts 39 Billion School Meals Worldwide

  • Some 370 million children miss 40% of school meals in pandemic
  • Many are reliant on school meals for key source of nutrition
With many children reliant on school meals as a key source of nutrition, agencies urged governments to prioritize school reopening.
With many children reliant on school meals as a key source of nutrition, agencies urged governments to prioritize school reopening. Photographer: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

A global nutrition crisis is looming as 39 billion school meals have been missed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, risking the futures of millions of the poorest children, according to the United Nations.

Closed classrooms mean 370 million children on average have missed about 40% of school meals globally, the UN’s World Food Programme and Unicef Office of Research said in a report. With many children reliant on the meals as a key source of nutrition, the agencies urged governments to prioritize school reopening.

“We risk losing a whole generation,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said in a statement. “For many, the nutritious meal they get in school is the only food they will receive all day.”

Healthy and nutritious food is becoming out of reach for millions of people as the pandemic reduces incomes and boosts unemployment. Children can feel the effects of a poor diet well into adulthood, as it can weaken immune systems, limit mobility and even impair brain functioning. Malnutrition can also cause poor school performance, hurting future career prospects.

Food Access

Percentage of the population that cannot afford a healthy diet

Source: FAO

Meal programs can provide incentives for the most vulnerable children to return to school. Estimates show that 24 million children are at risk of dropping out of school due to the coronavirus crisis, reversing enrollment progress made in recent decades, the UN agencies said

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Study: Most abductions happen when a child is going to or leaving school

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Do your children know what to do if they are approached by someone without a parent around? News Channel 8 looked into where children are the most at risk, and what you should conversations parents and children should be having.

According to a study done by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, attempted abductions happen most often when a child is going to and from school, or school related activities.

St. Pete Police Officer Mark Williams says typically the abductor is not a stranger.

“More often than not, we find it is individuals that are abducted, are abducted by someone they know, so we want to make sure they understand there is a need to be aware of anyone and everyone who comes up to you and offers you something,“ he said.

Officer Williams suggests parents and children have a code word, something anyone picking up your child would know, so the child knows it is safe to go with them. If the person doesn’t know it, the child should get away, fast.

“The child should definitely turn and walk away, and we hope that if children are out they are with a partner or with a buddy. that is the main way we can keep our kids safe.”  said Officer Williams.

By Amanda Ciavarri

Friday, July 24, 2015

A year later, child safety seems to be a forgotten issue - Bengaluru (Bangalore), India

Managements have increased fees citing expenditure on CCTV cameras, installing GPS in school buses and other safety measures, but parents feel that safety measures are not up to the mark.

Schools prefer to wait for the child protection policy before “investing” in safety

Exactly a year ago, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) formulated guidelines to be implemented in schools following a spate of sexual assaults on children. However, the situation on the ground has not changed much, as most schools are yet to implement all the guidelines.
Significantly, the comprehensive child protection policy (CPP), which was formulated to collate guidelines issued by multiple departments, is yet to get the government’s nod. A high-level committee under the chairmanship of Additional Chief Secretary V. Umesh was formed to look into child safety and the policy. The policy has been placed before the cabinet, but was sent back several times for corrections, sources said.
Managements have increased fees citing expenditure on CCTV cameras, installing GPS in school buses and other safety measures, but parents feel that safety measures are not up to the mark.
The managements’ defence is that there are multiple guidelines and they would rather wait for the CPP to be finalised before “investing” in safety.
D. Shashikumar, General Secretary of the Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, said, “The guidelines issued by the police are in the High Court. Besides this, guidelines have been issued by DPI and the Transport Department. However, multiple guidelines tend to be confusing. We would rather wait for the CPP to be finalised.”
In the tussle between managements and the government, parents feel that their child’s safety is forgotten. Parimala S., a parent, feels that most schools have not even done basic things such as setting up parent teacher associations, installation of CCTV cameras in the premises and hiring support staff to accompany children in buses.
The worst of the lot are government schools which have not even issued identity cards for parents, let alone installation of cameras, due to paucity of funds. “Some government schools, which have found donors, have implemented some guidelines but a majority have not initiated any measures,” a teacher from a government school said.