Online Safety

What can you do about online predators? Who should you report them to? What information should you never share with people online? How can you protect yourself (or your child)? The list of questions about internet safety can seem endless, unless you know where to look. Thousands of websites have advice and information, and we're assembled a small list of sites and resources that can help you learn how to enjoy the internet safely.

Perverted Justice - This is a dedicated and amazing group of people who work closely with American law enforcement to put online child predators in jail. This link takes you to a parents' guide to online safety - not just what you can get your child to do, but also tips on what you need to know, as well, such as: Looking at your browser history to see what websites your child visits, learning to use IM and chat rooms, etc. A very informative and important guide for all parents to read.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) - This site is a member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, whose goal is making the internet a safer place. There is a great deal of helpful information on this site. Tips for parents, information on what to report and where to report it. They also offer tips on how to use IM, chat rooms, blogs, mobile phones, and online-gaming safely.

BeWebAware - is an incredible site, loaded with information. There are links to kid-friendly and family-friendly search engines, safety tips for different age groups of children (from ages 2 - 17), ways to report problems, and much, much more.

Think U Know - was developed by the CEOP. It is a site geared towards kids and teens to help them become aware of the dangers online. It also has tips on just about anything you would want to do online. With special areas on where to get advice, how and where to report inappropriate behaviour and tips on what you should and shouldnít do online. Itís a fun and helpful site.

NetSmartz.org - is a wonderful site filled with tips and ideas to help you be safer online. It has real life stories geared towards all ages, as well as suggestions for parents. There are also age specific activities to help children of all ages learn internet safety.

ChatDanger - This is a great site with loads of advice, true stories and tips on how to protect yourself on chatrooms, IM, mobiles, emails and games. There is also a long list of links for other internet safety sites. They also include the SMART rules which are so important:

S - Safe. Keep safe by being careful not to give out your personal information - such as your name, email, home address, school name or phone number - to people online.

M - Meeting. Meeting with someone you only know online can be dangerous. If you feel you have to, take a trusted adult with you and meet during the day in a public place.

A - Accepting. Accepting emails, files or IMís from your online friends can be dangerous. Viruses and disturbing images or email could be sent to you.

R - Reliable. Anyone can lie on the internet. No matter how often you chat or IM with someone, please remember that they are essentially a stranger to you.

T - Talk. Talk to your parents or a trusted adult if something online is bothering you. Showing your parents that you are taking internet safety seriously will help reassure them that you will be smart about your activities online.

Now for a moment we felt it was important to talk to the parents that have taken the time to read through this information. Although we wish that it were never necessary to pass along the following information, we know that according to statistics found on Cyber Angels (a US based internet safety site) 77% of youths by the age of 14 have been contacted by a predator online.

Keeping an open line of communication with your child is the best way to prevent problems and to solve issues that do occur. Many kids donít report incidents that happen online to a parent because they fear their internet privileges will be taken away. Its important that they know they can talk to you about this.

Knowing where your child goes online and who they talk to is vitally important as well. Sites like All About Spyware contain programs which are available to download to help you monitor your childís online activities.

Now for the scary stuff. No matter how much we wish that there would never be another child hurt by one of these monsters, the fact remains that they are out there and we need to do what we can in case it happens to you or someone you know. The most important thing in a child abduction case is time. Every minute counts so it is important to have all the info that the police would need ready to go as soon as you can. The Poly Klaas Foundation's Missing Child Center website has a free child ID kit available online that enables you to have your childís fingerprints, DNA and all pertinent information ready in case of an emergency.

We urge all of our members (young and old) and their families to take the time to check out the websites listed and to please heed the advice that they have for us. Below we have a list of country specific sites that can be used to report anything that you find online that could endanger a child. (pornography, grooming, etc)

International:

Virtual Global Taskforce

UK:

Internet Watch Foundation

USA:

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Canada:

Cybertip

Australia:

Cyber(smart:)

Australian High-Tech Crime Centre

India:

Indianchild.com safety mission

Europe:

INHOPE - International Association of Internet Hotlines.

This article was written by Angel and previously posted on HPFF.