Part of being a good parent is equipping our children with tools to deal with the dangers they may encounter on their journeys through life. In 2015, more than ever before, parents are challenged to keep their children safe, not only everywhere they go, but also in the wide, expansive realm of cyberspace.
For this reason, The SAFE Foundation launched its series of parenting programs with The Dangers of the Internet and Internet Safety, on January 6th, featuring Chris Hansen from NBC Dateline’s To Catch a Predator and Alex Paskie of T.A.G., the Technology Awareness Group of Flatbush. The event was hosted by Magen David Elementary School and was cosponsored by The Yeshivah of Flatbush, Magen David Yeshivah, and Barkai Yeshiva.
Director of SAFE’s Parent Programs, Ariel Cohen, said, “It is hard to keep up with what our kids are doing- the apps they are using, the pictures they are posting, who they are talking to, and what websites they are viewing. All of these can take our children far from the values we are trying to instill in them. SAFE is about Prevention. We want parents to be aware of the dangers and to take action.”
Chris Hansen presented an impactful short clip of an investigation that took place not too far from where much of the audience spends their summers. He then shared some of his firsthand experiences. He said that in less than six years, his team found 300 men inappropriately soliciting minors. Chris highlighted the ways in which children today are very exposed and quite vulnerable. He said, “We were all told as kids not to talk to strangers. But online, the person who appears to be a stranger on Tuesday, may whittle their way into your child’s life by Thursday. Therefore, it is important to have open, honest, age-appropriate discussions with our kids about the internet.”
Next, Alex Paskie, took to the stage. He began, “We think that certain kinds of internet dangers don’t affect an insular community, but they do. These things happen in the best families. No one is immune. You see, it is so easy to do or say things online that we’d never do or say in real life.” Alex spoke of the pressures and threats the kids of today face. He spoke of the filtering and monitoring options parents have. Alex stressed that exposure at a young age to inappropriate content on the internet can really “mess a kid up.” He asserted that it is in the best interest of the child to delay such exposure for as long as one can.
Associate Director of Project SAFE, Yossi Sirote, commented, “As a SAFE teacher, very often I get students saying, ‘Why can’t my parents hear this?’ or ‘My parents have no idea at all what I’m doing’ or ‘I wish I could have a real open and honest discussion with my parents about this topic.’ This is why having and attending parenting programs is so important.”
One attendee remarked, “Parents, who took the effort to come out to hear how they can better protect their children, do a great service for their families and for the entire community.”
At the end of the program, parents surrounded both Chris Hansen and Alex Paskie to ask questions.