By Amy Lidell, Intern for Concerned Women for America
Last week the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) partnered with the White House, Justice Department, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to host a live stream webinar promoting online safety for children. Ivanka Trump and Attorney General William Barr opened the webinar voicing their support for the safety movement while outlining some of the risks children face online.
Screen time in 2020 increased significantly as a result of the required social distancing connected to the coronavirus pandemic, and online enticement is up by a minimum of 20 percent. Attorney General Barr voiced his concern for the amplified dependency on technology for social interaction, stating, “Unfortunately, the same technology that connects us with family and friends also provides predators with a pathway back into our homes and can be used for strangers who want to target, groom, and sexually exploit our children.” Internet safety is more important than ever. We are all harmed when children are exploited online.
Safety First promotes a culture of safety over a value of privacy for online predators. An individual’s privacy cannot take priority over a child’s online vulnerability. Ivanka Trump discussed the importance of standing behind sexual assault victims and allowing their voices to be heard while becoming proactive in preventing online exploitation from happening in American homes. DHS Chief Chad Wolf added that proactive conversations with kids about online safety make them less vulnerable.
NCMEC leaders spoke on ways to successfully direct difficult conversations with kids of all ages about online activity. They showed that the earlier these conversations take place within a family, the more likely parents successfully prevent online enticement, sexting, sextortion, and any other inappropriate interaction with strangers or predators.
NCMEC has provided fun, age-appropriate workbooks on its website to provide parents and teachers an outlet to teach kids about online safety. These workbooks help navigate uncomfortable discussions about saying no to online strangers and avoiding traps used by predators to lure kids into inappropriate correspondence. Physical contact is not needed for an online offender, and it is alarming how direct predator requests become towards a child when direct action is not taken immediately.
We encourage you to learn more about the Safety First movement and join Concerned Women for America in taking the NCMEC Safety Pledge to continue learning how to be critical role models for kids through your online activity, presence, and conversation.