Protecting kids from cyberspace dangers
Kids in our community are fresh into starting a new school year. They face new classes, new teachers and new concepts to learn. However, kids do not have to be the only ones slated to learn something new this fall.
KIDS Center, Central Oregon's child abuse intervention center, is launching a new internet safety training, SafetyNet®. Developed by the San Diego Police Foundation and the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, SafetyNet is a training designed to help adults learn how to use technology in a safe, positive, and ethical manner while providing the tools needed to safely manage online lives for both themselves and children.
This training is also available as a school assembly or a classroom presentation and can be presented to all grades k–12. Kids can learn about defending against hackers and scams, protecting yourself while using social networking, and more.
"In the past, KIDS Center had created its own internet safety training. As the years went on, we realized it was too much for us to keep up with," said Rachel Visser, prevention education coordinator for KIDS Center. "So we put it on hold and decided to look for a curriculum that was already developed that included the themes that we wanted to talk about."
With SafetyNet, KIDS Center found a program that covered all of the topics the organization hoped to address. It covered everything from cyberbullying to online predators to how to use social networking appropriately and maintain your privacy.
"They update it annually," Visser added. "They are the ones who are doing all of the research, they are vetting all of the information and they are the experts."
Each year, the KIDS Center receives an updated presentation from the San Diego Police Foundation with new statistics, new research and new tips to have a healthy and safe engagement with our digital world. This allows KIDS Center to provide the community with a resource for its ever-evolving online presence.
KIDS Center has seen the need for internet safety training growing by the year and they wanted to take action and help keep children safe. Visser noted that the organization has seen kids with 24/7 access technology either through a school-issued tablet or through a smartphone.
"We know that a lot of people don't necessarily know all of the ins and outs of how to protect themselves," she said, adding that there are also hackers and scammers to wary of who are trying to steal our information.
"We just saw the need starting to escalate," she said. "This does wrap back around to child abuse. We know that that there are online predators looking to use social media and our digital platforms in order to lure kids."
This training is made possible with the financial support of sponsor, Pacific Power Foundation. The Pacific Power Foundation, which is one of the largest utility-endowed foundations in the United States. It was created in 1988 by PacifiCorp, and its mission, through charitable investments, is to support the growth and vitality of the communities served by Rocky Mountain Power and Pacific Power.
SafetyNet is available in Crook County as well as Deschutes and Jefferson counties and will be offered in Spanish at the end of October.
The class oriented toward adults or parents provides participants with a wealth of information about different topics, but it includes an active element as well where people learn to apply the information.
"We have six different areas that we cover," Visser said. "After each area, we do a group brainstorm. We present them with a scenario or situation and we want them to talk about how they would handle it and who they would talk to their children."
To register for SafetyNet or learn more about the program, visit kidscenter.org or call 541-306-6062 and speak to the prevention department.
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