Safer Internet Day
February 7, 2017 marks Safer Internet Day – an opportunity to talk about safer and more responsible use of online technology, especially among our children and youth. The Surrey RCMP Youth Unit and youth counsellors with the Youth Intervention Program see the real consequences of online actions every day. Threats and bullying, sharing of explicit images, and online extortion are among some of the complaints they investigate on a weekly basis. A common thread connects the files: the effects of negative comments, photos and videos shared online or through apps has real and sometimes long-lasting consequences for both victims and perpetrators.
How to get involved in Safer Internet Day:
- Talk about ways to be safe online. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection offers several age appropriate internet safety resources. Their website NeedHelpNow.ca provides information to youth who have been impacted by a sexual picture or video being shared by others.
- Stay informed about online risks. It can be difficult to keep up with new technology, apps or message services and understand the risks associated with each. You can sign up to receive Cybertip.ca ALERTS to be aware of the latest trends. The website The Door That’s Not Locked is a one stop shop for parents, teachers and everyone else on all things related to internet safety.
- Seek help and report. If you or someone you know is the victim of online threats, bullying, extortion - reach out to a trusted adult, friend, teacher or school counselor. Kids Help Phone offers 24/7 support by phone 1-800-668-6868, website, and Victim Services to assist. You can report internet-related crimes via our non-emergency number 604-599-0502.
Some examples from our Youth Unit, Youth Intervention Program Counsellors, Officers and Staff:
I investigated a file involving serious threats and allegations made by a 16 year-old male over the internet. The male ended up being charged with the offence. He seemed surprised to learn that he wouldn’t be able to travel out of the country on holiday with his family because of the criminal charge. What you say, what you post, or what you send in the virtual world – it has real consequences. - Sgt. Kennedy, Youth Unit
If you or someone you know has been the victim of online threats, blackmail or extortion, some steps to take include: cease all forms of communication with the individual by blocking the accounts, deactivate the accounts used to communicate, and report the incident to a trusted adult and to police. Learn more about Cyberbullying.
Victimization can happen very fast, sometimes without kids actually doing anything wrong. All it takes is one wrong click of a mouse or one friend request to potentially become a victim. – Sgt. Dixon, Special Victims Unit
Kids have never been so exposed to sexually graphic and harmful material as they are in today’s digital age. Set up filtering software and use child appropriate search engines (e.g. KidsRex). Have conversations about what to do if they encounter odd behaviour or requests online. Monitor your child’s internet use closely and discuss the qualities of health and unhealthy friendships. If you have concerns about someone who might be a victim of online sexual exploitation please report it to Cybertip.ca. If you know about a child who is a victim please call your local police.
It’s scary to think that sending explicit photos of yourself is considered by some youth to be just ‘part of the dating process’. Once you take or send those images, they are out there for the world. When you break up with the person a week or a month later, they are very oftenshared or posted online. – Officer with the Surrey RCMP Youth Unit.
After filming some of her friends coming out of the shower then sending it to others using a messaging app, the student commented that she thought it was ok because ‘everyone does it’. The reality is not only is it hurtful and damaging to the victims, it is also illegal. Depending on the content of the photos or videos you share – charges of child pornography could be considered by police.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s website needhelpnow.ca offers practical information on what to do if inappropriate images of you are being shared with others or posted online. This includes the steps for contacting popular websites and requesting the removal of pictures/videos, and ways to help you cope with feelings of stress.
Some of the messaging apps we’re seeing now connects youth with complete strangers. They end up giving too much personal info, or even being recorded via webcam. Often they think they’re chatting with someone their own age but that’s not always the case. The info or photos/video they’ve shared can later be used against them. – Misha, Youth Intervention Counsellor
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection issued a warning in relation to Canadian youth being extorted for money by adults posing as teenagers. Offenders secretly record teenagers exposing themselves via webcam and then threaten to share the content if they don’t pay money. You can sign up for future Cybertip ALERTS.
Many young children are exploring online gaming and parents should pay special attention to the chat room components of some these games. – Carly, Support Services
Tip: The multi-player capability of online games makes them appealing to children. While it’s easy to think your child is safe while playing a game, adult supervision and guidance is necessary. Don’t allow your child to communicate in unmonitored chat rooms associated to many online games. Seek games that offer the ability to block or restrict individuals who can play with your child. Assist with the creation of online profiles when they join a gaming or social networking site. Visit www.childrenstech.com or www.gamerdad.com for more info.
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