The following has some tips for your child’s online safety.
Protect Kids Online is an informative, one-stop website that provides free cyber-safety, education and strategies to parents of kids, teens and preteens. This website offers information about the ever-changing online interests of young people and the potential risks they face. This website effectively categorizes information by content and age.
If you suspect your child could be a victim of luring, sextortion or grooming, you should immediately report your concern to the RCMP and to Cybertip – Canada’s national tip line for reporting child sexual abuse and exploitation on the Internet.
Although located in the United States, The Child Rescue Coalition is an excellent resource that highlights the challenges of keeping children safe on the internet and other digital technologies. This organization provides current and timely information on their Instagram blog posts.
The following are five tips to help keep children and teens safe online:
1)Communicate with your children regularly:
Open, frequent and ongoing communication with your child is essential and should be a top priority regardless of how busy you are. Open communication ensures your children will trust you enough to tell you what’s going in their world.
2) Screen caregivers thoroughly:
Make sure you know who is taking care of your children.
3)Talk about body parts accurately:
This may be uncomfortable, but it is one of the most important tips. When children know the proper names of their body parts, they can properly express to you what has happened to them and you will be clear on what they are talking about. This should be done as soon as children are old enough to understand (i.e. by pre-school age).
Teach your children that their bodies belong to them and it’s okay for them to have boundaries and have their voices heard. If, for example, they do not want to hug or kiss someone, they do not have to.
5)Teach the difference between safe and unsafe secrets and touches:
This is so important that we named our program No Secrets. Ensure children know the difference between a safe secret (like keeping a birthday celebration a secret) and an unsafe secret (like the bus driver asking you to stay behind to go to the candy store and to not telling your parents)and a safe touch (like a touch that make you feel happy, loved and proud. This could be a high five) and an unsafe touch (i.e. a touch that makes you feel uncomfortable, upset and/or disgusting. This could be someone touching a part of your body you ae not comfortable with). Reinforce these regularly with different examples, so your children are able to determine what is safe or unsafe.
If you follow these tips and have regular conversations with your children about body safety and how their body belongs only to them, the risk of sexual abuse is greatly reduced.