The FBI this week announced that parents should be weary of increased threats to child safety during school closures and social distancing, echoing the cautions we’ve been sharing with families since early March. With the threat of COVID-19, children are likely spending more time than usual on digital devices for both education and entertainment.
But parents beware: 1 in 5 children who touch a digital device will be sexually solicited online, and the FBI this week released guidance warning of increased digital predation during this time. Those who seek to abuse and exploit children online frequent the very same apps, games and social media sites as their intended victims – gaining trust, then exploiting it. It is critical for parents to be educated about these dangers, and what they can do to reduce the risk to their child.
To help families with children of all ages stay safe from online and in-person predation, Lauren’s Kids is sharing a round-up of print and digital safety resources:
- Lauren’s Kids and Broward Sheriff’s Office Digital Safety Tip Sheet
- Developed by the Broward Sheriff’s Office Digital Safety Team and the Lauren’s Kids foundation, this tip sheet provides basic steps for digital safety – especially useful for parents of elementary and middle school students.
- Safer, Smarter Families Safety Toolkit Generator
- Designed for families with children from K-12, the Lauren’s Kids Safety Toolkit Generator provides tips, lessons, activities, and videos tailored to your child(ren)’s age(s) and level(s) of development. Just answer a few quick questions to help us pull together your custom toolkit, and get started on safety learning today! *Digital tool free for all
- Blueprint for Building Safer, Smarter Families Activity Pack
- The Lauren’s Kids Blueprint for Building Safer, Smarter Families interactive activity pack helps families teach their elementary school aged children the basics of personal safety and the strategies needed to prevent abuse – all from a place of fun, not fear. Adults receive their own “parent pack” to use with their child, while kids follow along in their own workbook complete with crossword puzzles, word searches, crafts, roleplay scenarios, games and other entertaining activities. *Printed tool free for Florida families, available for purchase nationally and internationally; order at shop.laurenskids.org
- COVID-19 Response Blogs and Resource Round-Up
- This time is challenging on many levels…stress about physical and mental health and wellness, childcare, income and economy, and more. For survivors of sexual abuse, this extreme stress can trigger PTSD, anxiety, and depression related to past trauma and abuse — and with school closures, childcare pressures, and perhaps more time than usual on digital devices, it is important to be mindful of safety.
- Safer, Smarter Kids and Safer, Smarter Teens Curriculum Programs
- Lauren’s Kids offers FREE-for-Florida K-12 child sexual abuse, human trafficking, digital safety, and personal safety education curriculum, now being used by classroom teachers, guidance professionals, and district leaders to teach safety lessons as a part of online learning efforts statewide.
In addition to the resources above, Lauren’s Kids shares resources daily on our Facebook and Twitter pages – from free art lessons by popular children’s book illustrators and live digital story time with Florida firefighters to information for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and how to cope with PTSD triggered by the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also continue to offer our Guide to Hope & Healing at no cost to survivors and their families (free in print for Floridians, available digitally for all, printed copies available for purchase outside of Florida).
In the coming weeks, we will host live safety programming including a reading of the Lauren’s Kingdom children’s book, safety lessons from the Blueprint for Building Safer, Smarter Families activity pack, and a live lesson and Q&A with law enforcement specializing in digital safety and online exploitation to allow parents to participate and pose questions in real time.
Stay tuned, and stay healthy!