Tagged as: online safety

Summer Bully

It’s the last day of school, and you’re thinking, “Maybe my child can finally rest, no more bullying.” WRONG! Unfortunately, the summer is prime bullying season, the difference is those kids’ parents are your friends. Yes, there is a bully in your neighborhood! In some aspect, you are wrong for not realizing it.

Unlike the constant supervision in school, most kids in the neighborhood play hours unsupervised. This subjects your child to endless hours of demeaning and often physical attacks. Then, we ignore our children when we decide to visit our neighbors for dinner; placing them right in the belly of the beast. We have to pay attention to  our siblings; the breath of our bosom, the fruit of our loins, the chip off the block.

Character.org states:

Repeated bullying causes severe emotional harm and can erode a child’s self-esteem and mental health. Whether bullying is verbal, physical or relational, the long-term effects are equally harmful. Both boys and girls report high levels of emotional distress and loneliness as well as lower self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

Here are a few warning signs that your child may have a Summer Bully:

  • Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises, and scrapes
  • Clothes, toys, books, electronic items are damaged or missing or child reports mysteriously “losing” possessions
  • Doesn’t want to go to activities with peers
  • Marked change in typical behavior or personality
  • Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed and that mood lasts with no known cause
  • Physical complaints; headaches and stomach aches
  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cries self to sleep, bed wetting
  • Change in eating habits

Remember, just because school has ended doesn’t mean the bullying has! For more information on bullying, visit divasindefense.com/victim-resources.

Four Steps to Protecting Personal Information Online

Having your personal information, like home address and phone number easily found online can leave you vulnerable to identity theft or in danger to a stalker. If you care to make the effort, there are steps to conceal information available about you in many public record databases. Most can be done quickly and inexpensively, other methods can be more costly and time consuming.

Keep in mind, it is virtually impossible to completely remove information available about yourself from public record. Some public information can be controlled, while others can not. For instance, property transactions and most court records will always be accessible to the public domain.

These efforts below are very effective, but not guaranteed. Please follow these preliminary steps listed to do the best you can to protect you and your family.

Here are four effective, but simple steps to controlling information about yourself listed on the web:

1) Open a P.O. Box for both personal mail and bills. Submit a change of address to your new post office box. This is the most effective and inexpensive thing you can do to swiftly remove your current address from a majority of “search sites” and public record databases.

2) Having an unlisted telephone number does not make your telephone number invisible to the public. This is one of the largest the misconceptions people have about having an unlisted number. Un-listing your telephone number simply keeps it out of directory assistance and white pages. The best thing you can do to control the distribution of your telephone number is to start with a new unlisted number and block caller ID information from being displayed when you place phone calls. Telephone numbers that at one time were listed, and are later unlisted, are most likely already widely distributed in the public record domain.

3) DO NOT put your name, number or personal information on any form or application without checking to reviewing their privacy policy. You will be surprised to find out how many credit card companies, banks, financial institutions and government agencies share or sell your information unless you specifically request that they do not distribute it.

4) Mail a written request to all major search sites and information suppliers requesting your information be removed. Some will comply, others will not. Most reputable companies have such a policy in place and soon will offer assistance in helping you contact information companies willing to remove your information.

The Great “8” Spring Break Safety Tips

The Spring Break season is steadily approaching. This is the time where teens and family do lots of travelling. It is important for Spring Breakers to use caution and discretion when visiting different cities. Below are a list of tips provided to assist travelers to their vacation and back in the safest way possible.

  1.  Never leave valuables in plain view in your car. Lock items in your trunk before reaching your destination.
  2. Before leaving your hotel, take a card from the front desk with the name of the hotel, phone number, and address, just in case you need help getting back. Also, put this information in your phone to be extra sure you have it.
  3. All genuine taxis will have some sort of ID or badge. Check for this before accepting a ride.
  4. If you ever feel unsafe, it is completely within your rights to abandon a taxi or any other ride service at a safe stop. Leave money behind on the seat and get out of there if you don’t feel safe.
  5. Try to go the ATM in groups, but avoid getting overly complacent about safety just because you’re traveling in numbers.
  6. When entering in your pin number, use your other hand or your body to cover the keypad. Just because you don’t see someone watching you doesn’t mean there couldn’t still be a camera capturing what you type.
  7. When you check in at the front desk, use discretion in saying your room number out loud for anyone in the lobby to hear. No one outside of your group of friends needs to know your exact location.
  8. Always keep an eye on your drink. If you go the bathroom, take your drink with you! Date rape drugs can be put into any drink, including non-alcoholic drinks. It is also important to remember that while drugs being slipped into drinks is something you should be aware of and guard against, alcohol itself is the most common date rape drug. In a 2007 study by the National Institute of Health, it was reported that 89% of female undergrad sexual assault survivors reported drinking before their assault. No survivor is to blame for their assault, but the links between alcohol and victimization are staggering and cannot be ignored.

Give A Potential Attacker the Finger!

“It’s like a blue light in the palm of your hand.”

With attacks on unsuspecting victims popping up left and right, it’s always boggled my mind that there hasn’t been a way to immediately and discreetly contact the police vs. calling 911 outright. The latter is a dead give away to any potential aggressor that you’ve called for help. With all the modern technology out there, I thought, why can’t people somehow TEXT 911?

While mobile phones have helped a lot of people escape dangerous situations that are detrimental to personal safety and well-being; smartphones have tried to take it to the next level. I’m not armed with data or analytical insight here but in general, smartphones have not been a radical addition to this security issue. There are apps which help you alert the cops and your friends when you are in danger. SafeTrek is one such app, a very ingenious one at that. SafeTrek promises to significantly enhance student safety by augmenting the infrequently-used “blue light” emergency phone systems on many college campuses.

SafeTrek is a security app for the iPhone and Android. It’s a very simple app which – when used and triggered – will alert the cops silently with a danger-alert tagged with your current location. When you feel unsafe, all you have to do is tap and release a button on the app. The Safe Trek system includes an app where students worried about their safety can hold down a large virtual button that causes the phone to vibrate and the screen to animate. If the user doesn’t input a private PIN within ten seconds, the local police dispatcher receives a web alert that tracks the student’s path on a map. The dispatcher and student can exchange text messages or speak directly until the situation is resolved

Many lives have been saved because of SafeTrek. Whether a user is walking down an alley late at night or hears a strange noise in his/her own home, SafeTrek offers a guarantee of security when the user might not be able to call the police on their own.

Designed to beat the time it takes to dial 911 and send your SOS message, SafeTrek started as a small project but has found some widespread success. The app works very simply:

If you feel unsafe – say, when you are out in the night or going through deserted streets with suspicious folks strolling around – open the app and press-and-hold on the Safe button.
• After you are out of the unsafe zone and are sure that you are safe, remove your finger from the button and enter a PIN to cancel the alarm system which will send a message to the authorities.
• In case you are in an emergency, all you do is remove the finger from the Safe button. In ten seconds, if you don’t do anything, the SOS will be sent and your location will be tracked/monitored constantly.
• You can cancel the alert in ten seconds.

How To Date an Online Mate: Five Simple Steps to First Date Safety

Grown tired of running into Mr. Wrong and are contemplating online dating; Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared!

Here are a few safety tips to safeguard yourself for the “first date” with an individual you met online:

  1. 1. Keep a record of any pertinent information you have on the individual. Screenshot the profile of the person you are meeting, carbon copy friend or family member on any text or email confirming the meeting location.
  2. 2. Choose a well lit, public place for the first date. Restaurants, coffee shops, pottery painting places and lounges provide security and ample volumes for intimate conversation in a controlled environment. We recommend driving your personal vehicle to ensure yourself the option of leaving when ready.
  3. 3. Take a pictures and forward to a friend. Quick snaps of the license plate and/or a “selfie” with the individual, can easily be forwarded to a confidant. Should anything go awry, these simple photos can serve as a matter of life or death.
  4. 4. Keep friends informed of next steps and update your location constantly and consistently. Giving up-to-date information and progress can lessen a potential problem should the need for help arise. This is imperative to any potential future investigations.
  5. 5. Is your residence easy to camouflage? If you live in an apartment or community, meet the person in a community area like the mailboxes or close to street. Never let a first date pick you up at your door. If giving an address for GPS purposes, give a neighbors or crossroads.

Feel free to download a “Free Guide to Online Dating” from WeLoveDates.com

4 Tips to Protect Your Children Online

Social media is a major concern for parents everywhere. After news of the students involved in the Steubenville rape last week, parents are outraged and looking for understanding of the incident turned social media event. The students were convicted based on explicit text messages, videos and Facebook posts that were made.

It is important that as a parent, you are taking a stand on control of social media within your households. Here a few quick tips to make sure your children are not engaging in inappropriate online communication:

1. What is Inappropriate?

Do not assume your child understands what is inappropriate social media communication. Take a minute to speak with your child about what they can and cannot engage in online. It is important that you have a discussion about the good, bad and ugly of social media.

2. Get Online.

Technology is changing each and everyday. It is important that you are familiar with the types of social media that your child is engaged in. Create a Facebook page and friend your daughter/son. Take an interest in what technology they are currently using so you are not in the dark.

3. Set Rules.

Set some ground rules for your child. Make sure they understand what your rules are for using social media on cell phones, social media websites and computers. Make sure you have passwords to access their accounts at anytime. (Remember the legal age to have a Facebook account is 13)

4. Educate Your Child.

Sexual assault and topics about sex will not go away if you ignore them. If your children are not learning about these topics from you, they are learning incorrect information from their friends. It is important to have these discussions with your children. Make your children feel comfortable coming to you with issues they have heard about or experienced. Need a little help starting the conversation? Click here to visit the Planned Parenthood website for resources to start the conversation.

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