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CyberSafety

This page is designed to provide resources that will help protect our children and youth as they navigate in their world of technology. Cyber safety is a big concern of adults in helping parents to protect their child. 

The internet and portable devices allow people to stay in contact with each other more easily than at any other time in the history of civilization. Some incredible ministry can take place using modern technology, but as with all forms of ministry there are some inherent risks involved with the use of electronic communications. However, following basic Safe Sanctuaries procedures can help to minimize those risks. There is no such thing as privacy in cyberspace. Consider anything and everything on the internet as public information.
 
 

Here are some recommendations:

 

Receive parental/guardian permission.

In addition to general permission to participate in a conference ministry, it is advisable to receive advance parental/legal guardian permission for children, youth and vulnerable adults in writing for:
1. Posting photos of participants on any websites or sending them e-mail or cell phone messages or making videos for any use.
2. E-mailing, Instant Messaging (IM’ing), calling, texting, or sending data to a child, youth, or vulnerable adult by computer, PDA, or cell phone (keep in mind "free" minutes and data plans vary tremendously even with the same carrier.)
3. The sharing of any full name or contact information.


Never post easily identifiable information online.

1. If you communicate by e-mail, do not use “broadcast” e-mails. Use the “Bcc” option (blind carbon copy) so that each recipient sees only his or her address when a message is received.
2. Be cautious when transmitting easily identifiable information like event dates, times, locations, or participants.
3. Limit what is communicated in electronic prayer requests. When placing a child, youth, or vulnerable adult on an electronic prayer list, consider using only first names. If someone must know the last name or the mailing address of the individual, have her or him call the church office or a designated contact person.
 
 

Limit individual communications with children, youth, and vulnerable adults.

1. Conduct any communications in a professional manner. (Even though you may be a sounding board for a person having a bad day, the reverse is not true.)
2. Save all communications you have with children, youth, and vulnerable adults (i.e. instant messages (IMs), chat room conversations, e-mails, etc.). An electronic "paper trail" can be important.
3. If you are uneasy about any topic addressed in an e-mail or an e-mail in general, send a blind carbon copy to a parent/guardian (if appropriate) or another trusted adult. Honor privacy, but not secrecy.
4. If abuse is divulged electronically, follow standard reporting procedures.
 

Safety Measures for sharing photos electronically

1. Consider obtaining copyrights for any photo posted directly on a conference ministry website or shared electronically. Keep in mind that copyright laws are not necessarily universal and can get rather complicated.
2. When posting photos, refrain from using names and never use last names or identifiable information.
3. Check photos for vulnerable/compromising situations and to make sure they uphold your mission. Check to make sure nametags are not distinguishable.
4. Use low-resolution photos whenever possible and slightly blur/pixilate photos.
5. Block "save photo as" options on websites (ask a web savvy person for assistance)
6. Limit access to photos by employing the use of a password.
7. Obtain additional permission to use photos elsewhere (i.e. a journal or website, local paper, etc.)
8. Consider or prefer using stock or purchased photo’s.
 

Safety Measure for using social networking sites.

Social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, 7Villages, Xanga, Friendster, Plaxo, and others are popular with many people:

1. Set privacy settings to limit who can see your profile otherwise people may still be able to view your full profile.
2. Restrict who can be your friend. It is prudent to use judgment in accepting requests from youth.
3. Use higher level security features even if you have a restricted profile (such as requiring your approval of all comments posted to your site.)
4. Do not post anything to your social networking site that you would not want attached to your resume or printed in the church newsletter or bulletin. (The same goes for blogs.)
5. Remove or do not post inappropriate comments, photos, etc.
6. Encourage youth to follow these same guidelines.
 

Refrain from giving out passwords to conference ministry accounts

 

Where can I find information regarding CyberSafety?

Websites are available to help adults empower children and youth to think responsibly while using technology. The topics include cyber-bullying, identification safeguarding, text messaging, and social networking. Visit these sites along with children and youth. Discuss what you learn. Experts agree that addressing the good, the bad, and the ugly of technology is not about control, but about personal and family safety.
 

The links are:

www.safekids.com   Information for parents and children on how to navigate the internet safely
www.isafe.org  Gives the latest information to educators, students, parents to control online experiences.
www.pewinternet.org   Information on pornography and articles helpful to conference and church ministry
www.safefamilies.org  Safe Families website
www.safefamilies.org/safetychecklist.php   Checklist for Implementing an Online Safety Program in Your Computer Center offered by Safe Families
www.safefamilies.org/aup.php   Sample Acceptable Use Policy for Computer Centers offered by Safe Families
www.microsoft.com/protect/yourself/password/checker.mspx    A Microsoft website that allows you to test the strength of passwords
www.wiredsafety.org   Touted as "The World’s Largest Internet Safety and Help Group" site
www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=197004779   Series of articles on how to secure wireless networks
 
 

CyberSafety for Families

A CD Training Kit
By Paul O’Briant
Technology plays an ever increasing role in the lives of children and youth. While the rapid advancement in computer and internet technology offers exciting opportunities, it also creates new dangers. Cell phones with cameras and texting capabilities, video games, social networking sites and other related technologies have created opportunities for abusers to have access to vulnerable individuals in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

O’Briant brings years of technology experience as the Chief Information Officer of a school district. As an active church member he has combined his love for God’s people and his passion for new technologies into the work of CyberSafety for churches.
 
This CD training kit is designed to assist leaders in providing training for parents and other concerned adults so that they might be aware of the dangers and take action to ensure that children and youth are protected as they navigate the world of technology. Guidelines and other tools are to help assure online safety.
 
Content includes:
• What You Need to Know First
• Planning Guide
• Teaching Plans with Schedule Options
• Handouts
• Slide Presentation: offered in an audio and non-audio format
 Mac and PC compatible
$35.00
ISBN 978-0-88177-592-1
Order from:
The Upper Room Book Store at  800-972-0433 or from Cokesbury at  800-672-1789.