One of the benefits of the Internet is that it allows us to reach out and talk to people anytime, anywhere. While this is an amazing feature, with all of the various chat rooms and social networks, we need to be diligent in protecting our children when using these websites.
A partnership between the Durham Regional Police Service and Cybertip.ca has allowed us to raise awareness about the important service they provide when reporting online sexual exploitation. Since Cypertip.ca was created in 2002, they have responded to more than 94,000 reports of exploitation.
Today marks Cybertip.ca Awareness Day and we’re taking the opportunity to share important information that can help safeguard our youth. Prevention and education are our best weapons against this terrible crime and we encourage everyone to share this information.
The key pieces of advice to promote in the community are:
• Talk to your kids – have a frank and open discussion without raising your voice. Get involved in their online habits.
• Log the chats your children are involved in, so there is a record of bullying, threatening and other criminal acts.
• Let your kids know, if a boyfriend receives a compromising photo of his 14-year-old girlfriend and passes it to another friend, he could be charged criminally with possession and distribution of child pornography, and vice versa.
• The computer should always be kept in a common area of your home such as a family room rather than the child's bedroom.
• Do not allow children to use a web cam without your supervision.
• Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use by your children. Discuss these rules and post them near the computer as a reminder. Remember to monitor their compliance with these rules, especially when it comes to the amount of time your children spend on the computer. A child or teenager's excessive use of online services or bulletin boards, especially late at night, may be a clue that there is a potential problem. Remember that personal computers and online services should not be used as electronic babysitters.
• The Internet is no different than the real world; get to know your children’s "online friends" just as you would get to know all of their other friends.
• Teach your children to ever give out identifying information - home address, school name, or telephone number in a public message, such as chat or bulletin boards, and be sure they're dealing with someone that both you and your child know and trust before giving it out via email. You should also think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, marital status, or financial information. Consider using a pseudonym or unlisting your child's name if your service allows it.
• Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without parental permission and supervision. If a meeting is arranged, make the first one in a public spot, and be sure to accompany your child.
• Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages. If you or your child receives a message that is harassing, of a sexual nature, or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your service provider and ask for their assistance. In the case of an email containing threats, contact your local police agency.
• Should you stumble upon a website that contains child pornography while online, make note of the website’s URL address and report it immediately to your local police agency. A website’s URL is the series of letters usually starting with http://www.
• If you receive any email messages containing child pornographic images contact your local police agency immediately. Do not delete the message until advised to do so by the police. Deleting the message prematurely may destroy valuable information that can help the police trace the person responsible for sending the message.
• Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can't see or even hear the person it would be easy for someone to misrepresent himself or herself. Someone indicating that they are a "12-year-old boy or girl" could, in reality, be an adult.
• Remember that everything you read online may not be true. Any offer that's "too good to be true" probably is. Be especially careful about any offers that involve your coming to a meeting or having someone visit your home.
• Never give out your password to anyone even if the person claims to work for your Internet Service Provider. No reputable company will ever ask for your password.
• Be aware that GPS co-ordinates are embedded in some pictures online and can be opened to determine the location of where the picture was taken.
• Once a compromising photograph is posted online and shared, there really is no way to get it back. It will live on servers around the world forever.
Learn more about “Parenting Tweens and Teen in the Digital World” by downloading the attached document from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. By working together, we can help our youth from becoming victims of this heinous crime.
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Parenting Tweens and Teens in a Digital World (PDF file, 4,056.1K bytes)