By Sonia Verma
A Moncton man has been charged with online luring and sex offences in an investigation that could include as many as 2,000 boys worldwide. The man is alleged to have posed as a teenage girl online, then persuaded the boys to undress and initiate sexual acts. These were taped and distributed online.
At the same time, York Police in Ontario have announced a major international child pornography bust.
In a week where a factually incorrect, fearmongering video about “Stranger Danger” has gone viral (which, by the way, was its creator’s main mission; not educating parents or keeping kids safe from men with puppies), let’s not lose sight of a much greater danger facing our kids.
Internet safety, both from predators and online bullies, is a massive, complex issue that we need to address, whether we like it or not.
Before I hector you any further, check out The Door That’s Not Locked, which offers age-specific information, support and resources related to online safety for parents, kids and teachers.
Browse it, find the tips that work for you, and put them into practice.
There is no way to lock our kids away from the Internet, and we’d be serving them poorly to try that. All we can do is talk to them—a LOT—about staying safe, about the value of their identity and personal information (including images), and about keeping an open line of communication with parents and teachers.
I know, easier said than done. But check out the site, seriously. It breaks things down into simple steps and offers great ideas, like this one:
“Review with your child the difference between a KEEP and a SPEAK Secret. A KEEP Secret is harmless and will eventually come out, like a birthday present; a SPEAK Secret is one that children are told never to tell, like being threatened by someone or a secret about touching or picture-taking. Tell your child that SPEAK Secrets need to be told to a safe adult.”
As for that video about luring away kids with a puppy, it’s been debunked for being factually incorrect and poorly edited, and for seeking to frighten, rather than to inform.
In a word, bullshit. Yeah, I used a potty word. Our kids are precious. We absolutely need to teach them to make safe, wise choices, and that there are dangers out there. But for that we need resources and tools, not fear and paranoia. I can't condone some idiot with a camera (and a puppy) preying on parental fears and using our precious kids just to turn himself into a viral sensation.
Blogging neophyte Sonia Verma is discovering that her "voice" seems to combine a lifelong dislike of factual inaccuracies with a newfound contempt for people who tell parents they're Doing It Wrong