IN-SCHOOL INTERNET SAFETY EDUCATION
Although teens would vehemently deny this characterization, they
are amazingly naïve and malleable. They tend to act on whatever
the media has programmed them to accept as cool and hip, and
this can leave teens incredibly vulnerable to a variety of
negative influences and predators. The rise of internet
stalking, or “cyber stalking,” is a parent’s worst nightmare –
and one which the majority of teens are ill-equipped to prevent
or deal with effectively.
Cyber stalking, which is a manifestation of physical stalking,
is defined as repeated threats or harassing behavior over email,
the Internet, or other electronic communications. This type of
harassment can take place solely online, or it can escalate into
an off-line situation.
According to Ernie Allen, President of the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children, who appeared on this morning’s
edition of NBC’s “The Today Show” to discuss Internet predators,
fully 20% of America’s children who are currently using the
Internet regularly have been the victims of a sexual advance on
the web. Teens’ lives are an open book on the Internet. At hot
“blogs” like Xanga, LiveJournal, MySpace, Blurty and millions of
others, minute details of teenagers' lives are available to
anybody, anytime. In a recent article in The Gazette in Cedar
Rapids, Iowa, some startling new data emerged. Internet market
researchers Perseus Development project that there will be more
than 10 million blogs by the end of 2004, 52% of them by people
aged 10 to 19, 40% by 20-somethings.
This is what parents need to know: "In his study of teen blogs,
researcher David Huffaker of Georgetown University found that
20% of teens posted their full names, 67% listed their ages, 59%
revealed their locations, and 61% divulged some sort of contact
information." Bloggers' full names can be Googled by future
college admissions decision makers and employers, not to mention
people with ill intentions. Many kids are using photo blogs as
well, such as MySpace.com, posting pictures of themselves in
various states of dress.
As is the case with any safety issue relating to children, a
multi-faceted approach generally yields the best results. While
children need a certain amount of privacy, they also need
parental involvement and supervision in their daily lives. But
the success of any education initiative must also involve
teachers, counselors and the school system.
In this age of overworked and underpaid educators, however,
issues like cyber safety almost always fall by the wayside,
victims of the lack of funding and the amount of time available
for critical programs like these. While a myriad of good
programs teaching “cyber safety” are available in the form of
books and information on the web, no program currently exists
that takes this issue directly into schools to address the
Enter “Cyber Safe Moves”!
The key to the success of Safe Moves’ programs has been age
appropriateness. Rather than gather ALL the students in a K-6
elementary school at one assembly,
founder Pat Hines recognized
years ago that first-graders learn in a far different way than
sixth graders. Therefore, two assemblies per school per day are
held to present the program: Grades K-3 in the morning and
Grades 4-6 in the afternoon.
Using a combination of age-appropriate pop music, hip sets and
costumes, talented actors and presenters and a cohesive
plot/script, Cyber Safe Moves, in conjunction with sponsors,
will create program curriculum that meets State of California
teaching standards. The following cyber safety rules will be
Don’t give out personal information of any kind without
- Tell parents right away if you come across any information
that makes you feel
Never agree to get together with someone you “meet” online
without first letting
a parent. If they agree, be sure the meeting is in a public
place and your parent is
Never send a picture of yourself or anything else to someone
Do not respond to any e-mail messages that are mean or make
you feel uncomfortable. Tell a parent right away so they can
contact the internet service provider.
Talk to parents about setting up rules for going online.
Together, decide on the time of day you can go online, the
length of time you can spend there, and areas that are okay for
you to visit.
Don’t give out ANY Internet password to anyone (even your
best friend) other than a parent.
Be a good online citizen and don’t do anything that hurts
other people or is against the law.
Obviously, for middle schools and high-schools, the program will
be tailored to their jargon, tastes and sensibilities.
Program materials and leave-backs will include a Cyber Safe
Moves “Web Safety Checklist” for parents, along with a sponsor
coupon and fun trinkets for students.
BACK TO TOP