Helping children stay safe online

Helping children stay safe online

SD83 will be hosting a three-part series for parents that focuses on online gaming, social media safety for youth, and sexploitation. The sessions will be held online from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on three consecutive Mondays, February 27, March 6 and March 13.

Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Part 1: Video Games 101: Risks and Rewards
Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto 5, Call of Duty Warzone, Fortnite, and Apex Legends are just a few of the games in 2023 that are still popular amongst our youth. What are the risks? What are the rewards? How much time should they spend playing these games?

March 6 at 6:30 p.m.
Part 2: Social Media 101: Risks and Rewards
Snapchat, TikTok, Discord, and Instagram are just a few of the social media platforms that are popular amongst our youth in 2023. What are the risks? What are the rewards? How do they differ from each other?

March 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Part 3: Sexting, Sextortion, Sexual Age of Consent
What is sexting? Sextortion? How does it affect our youth? What is legal and illegal activity? What is the sexual age of consent?

MEETING ID:  232 575 375 034

Safer Schools Together trainer and Manager of Safe Schools for SD8 (Kootenay Lake) Scott Rothermel will lead parents in these sessions sharing his considerable knowledge and discussing trends in these areas.

As a police officer for the past 12 years, Scott Rothermel’s last 10 years have been spent working with youth and in specific youth-related programs. The role of the Safe School Coordinator provides Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA), Critical Incident Response management (CIRT), crime prevention, education, digital investigations, Sexual Orientation Gender Identity (SOGI) awareness, safety education, and mediation between school staff, students and parents within the school environment. It is also a role that engages with outside agencies like RCMP, MCFD, and Interior Health.

Scott supports the belief that while youth make up only 20% of our population, they are 100% our future.

The need for parents and youth to be aware of some of the dangers which may lurk online continues. This is particularly true in the area of sexploitation. The issue of sextortion and its potential impact on youth is a growing concern. Sextortion is a form of extortion or blackmail in which sexual favours or images are demanded in exchange for something, such as not sharing embarrassing or compromising information. What is sexting? Sextortion? How does it affect our youth? What is legal and illegal activity? What is the sexual age of consent? Rothermel will answer these questions and more!

Carol-Ann Leidloff, SD83 Director of Instruction (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) reports that unfortunately, sextortion is becoming increasingly common among youth. With the widespread use of smartphones and social media, it is easier than ever for predators to target and exploit young people. Sexploitation through the use of social media platforms, particularly Snapchat, has shown a marked rise over the last two years. Some of the tactics predators may use include:

  • Posing as a peer: Predators may create fake accounts and pretend to be someone their victim’s age in order to gain their trust and build a relationship with them.
  • Sending explicit images or messages: After building a relationship, predators may pressure or coerce their victims into sending explicit images or messages.
  • Using images for blackmail: Once a predator has explicit images or messages, they may use them as leverage to extort or blackmail their victims into sending more images or engaging in sexual activities.
  • Creating groups or chatrooms for sharing images: Predators may also use Snapchat or other group sharing social media platforms to share explicit images, which can be used for further exploitation or distribution.

It is important to talk to your children about the dangers of sextortion and how to protect themselves. Here are some key points to discuss:

  • Never send explicit images or videos to anyone, even if they are a friend or romantic partner. Once something is shared online, it is difficult to control who sees it and it can be used against them – often years after the images were originally shared. Once an image is shared, it is next to impossible to remove it.
  • Be wary of strangers online who may be trying to “groom” or exploit them. Remind your children that people may not be who they say they are, and to never meet up with someone they’ve only met online.
  • Teach your children how to recognize and report sextortion. If they, or someone they know, are being threatened or blackmailed, they should tell a trusted adult immediately.

“We understand that this can be a difficult and uncomfortable conversation to have with your child, but it’s an important one to have.  It’s really difficult as a parent to monitor your child’s Snapchat as the messages often disappear when read and “hidden” chat rooms can easily be created. We hope these sessions with Scott will not only make parents more aware but also give them some tools and knowledge to have these conversations with their kids.”