Recently, Savvy Cyber Kids had the opportunity to host a booth at the Crimes Against Children Conference, where I attended several sessions organized by the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center.
There were over 5,600 law enforcement officers and child care advocates that specialize in Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) in attendance.
Above is an image of one of the sessions hosted by TikTok on how law enforcement can engage TikTok to obtain evidence, through a subpoena request, from their platform to help prosecute criminals. Google, Snap, Meta, Dropbox, and Yahoo held similar sessions for law enforcement.
Over the days of sessions, I received updates on aspects of horrific crimes against children, perpetrated by child predators utilizing technology, that really puts the importance of the work Savvy Cyber Kids accomplishes into a new light. Your continued support of Savvy Cyber Kids is more crucial now than ever.
In a single state alone, there have been over 30,000 CyberTips received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) year to date. Unfortunately, due to law enforcement funding constraints, there are only 90 active cases.
Read that again. That’s over 30,000 kids where their parents (or other caregivers) have reported an incident that has escalated to the point where it required reference to law enforcement to work the case and bring the predator to justice. Multiply that by 50. That only accounts for what is happening across the United States. Non-US law enforcement officers were also in attendance, and if we include their numbers as well, the magnitude of the problem becomes exponential!
By the way, a huge THANK YOU to all the law enforcement officers and child care advocates that work these cases 24/7! We need increased funding to give these dedicated ICAC officers the necessary resources to put child sexual predators away.
Think about that 30,000 number again – that means that there are 30,000 households (just in one state) that are having an active crisis (child sexual abuse materials (CSAM), self-generated sexual abuse materials as a result of online grooming, online enticement of children for sexual acts, child sexual molestation, unsolicited obscene materials sent to children, sextortion, etc.) and are NOT getting assistance.
Now imagine that you or a family member is in that situation. How would you feel? Knowing the sexual predator is still out there, potentially (and likely) still trying to communicate with your child and other people’s children.
Back to those 90 active cases (again, in one state)…I learned that the current time for social media and other tech companies to respond to a subpoena request is between 3 – 18 months (based on global law enforcement officers sharing during sessions). Yes, 3-18 MONTHS (that’s TikTok, Snap, Facebook/Instagram (Meta), Google/YouTube, etc.) to get the technical evidence necessary to build a case against a child sexual predator. There is an exception to that timeframe, but there must already be evidence that a child is in immediate danger, such as a victim of human trafficking, child sex trafficking, etc. In that situation, those cases go to the front of the line.
So, what can we do as a society and individually?
- Technology companies need to do more by prioritizing our children’s safety over profit. There is nothing wrong with profit, but safety needs to be at the top of these companies priority lists and be well funded internally.
- Politicians must come together and use the tools at their disposal to get technology companies to do more to protect our children. Politicians also need to release more funds to put more ICAC focused law enforcement officers to work to save our kids.
- Parents, caregivers, and educators need to spend more time educating the children in their care about how to make smart, empowered decisions when using social media, games, and other technology kids love, so that they don’t become the next victim.
Of the three categories above, what can we EACH do today to move the needle in the right direction to protect today’s youth? You got it, the third item on the list.
Politicians have been talking about passing legislation to protect our kids from big tech for as long as I’ve been doing this work (20+ years!). Even when they actually manage to pass something, it will be watered down and take years to take effect.
Big tech always promises to do better, yet the problem continues to get worse.
The third category is in our control. Providing funding and support for Savvy Cyber Kids to continue to produce needed classroom materials, such as lesson plans and activity sheets, continue to develop digital parenting resources for parents and caregivers to use at home, and continue to spread the word of the work we do to bring more parents, caregivers, and educators eyes on our free materials!
The messaging of Savvy Cyber Kids resonated extremely well with those in attendance at the conference. They excitedly took all the collateral I brought to share to bring back in their communities.
And you, what can you do?
Parent or Caregiver
- Download our free Digital Parenting Guides (available in English and Spanish) for in-depth discussions around topics kids need to hear about and include guidance for you on how to talk about them, such as gaming with strangers, privacy, device security, cyber bullying, body image, and more covering topics (also available in Spanish).
- Read our newest publication, Digital Parenting by the Ages, which serves as a quick reference guide that allows you to turn to the chapter where yours kid’s ages fall to get the age appropriate recommendations.
- Read the Savvy Cyber Kids at Home book series (The Family Gets a Computer, Defeat of the Cyberbully , and Adventures Beyond the Screen) starting at 3 years old (yes, you read that right!) and have your older kids read them to themselves so they can learn at the earliest of ages about computing technology, the concepts of strangers, privacy, online identity, cyberbully response, and technology balance. The first book in the series, The Family Gets a Computer, is available in English, Spanish, French, German, and Hebrew.
- Follow Savvy Cyber Kids on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to see and share our daily conversation starters to assist in discussions with your children as you deem appropriate (make sure the parents of your child’s friends see these too, it takes a village!).
- Use our online, customizable, Technology Pledge, so kids know what is expected of them.
- Use our online, customizable, Digital Bill of Rights: I Make My Own Rules so your kids can take control of how they want to be treated online and how they will treat others.
- Sign up for all our parent resources and once a month we will email you the latest blogs that we posted.
- Read our blogs—each blog covers a topic related to cyber safety and cyber ethics in a unique way that also includes discussion questions you can use with your kids.
- Want to know how technology is being used for good and bad? Sign up to receive our free Cyber Safety News Feed weekly summary email.
- Looking for a parental control solution or cyber security tool recommendation, like a password manager? Check out our Tools page.
Educator (or Home School Parent/Caregiver)
- Download our free lesson plans and activity sheets that accompany each of our books (The Family Gets a Computer, Defeat of the Cyberbully, and Adventures Beyond the Screen).
- Use our free digital book versions of the Savvy Cyber Kids at Home book series to share on a screen for your class to see.
- Ask your parent teacher association or organization to buy copies of the Savvy Cyber Kids at Home book series (The Family Gets a Computer, Defeat of the Cyberbully, and Adventures Beyond the Screen) so teachers can use them for lessons in the classroom and kids can pick them up to read in their own.
- Follow Savvy Cyber Kids on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to see and share our daily conversation starters to assist in discussions with your children in the classroom as you deem appropriate.
- Use our online, customizable, Technology Pledge, to discuss different aspects of using technology in a positive way and have each student create their own set of rules to bring home so kids know what is expected of them outside of school.
- Use our online, customizable, Digital Bill of Rights: I Make My Own Rules so your students can understand what it means to take control of how they want to be treated online and how they will treat others.
- Sign up for all our educator resources and once a month we will email you the latest blogs that we posted.
- Read our blogs—each blog covers a topic related to cyber safety and cyber ethics in a unique way that also includes discussion questions you can use in your classroom.
- Want examples of how technology is being used for good and bad? Sign up to receive our free Cyber Safety News Feed weekly summary email to find current related articles that focus on the discussion topics you choose to use in class.
- Download our free Grandparents Guide to Technology to get up to date on what your grandkids are doing with technology and what you can do to protect yourself from scams that target the older generations.
- Volunteer at your local pre-school (yes, pre-school) or elementary school to read The Savvy Cyber Kids at Home: The Family Gets a Computer (just by reading this book to kids you will be teaching them what computing devices are, the concepts of strangers, privacy, online identity, and how to respond when someone online wants to know their name, age, location, or other personal information). We provide step-by-step instructions.
High School or University Student
- Want to be a published author and get some community service hours at the same time? Volunteer to write a blog or two for us to share your specific experience around a topic or how you view different topics related to how you use technology everyday. Email us at email@example.com for more information.
Employee at a company or student in a technology related field
- Download our middle and upper elementary school presentation and presenter guide and talk to kids in your local community about security, privacy, bully response, and more in a fun, age appropriate manner. We provide step-by-step instructions.
- Become a sponsor to help us create new educational materials and continue to support those that support our children by showing you care about today’s youth. Donate here!
Donate to Savvy Cyber Kids
- Become an individual donor to help us advance our mission to educate and empower today’s youth to make smart decisions when using all the technology they love. Donate here!
Real change starts with educating and empowering one child at a time to make smart decisions every time they are in front of a screen. Cyber safety and cyber ethics awareness education to help prevent a child from being the next victim is paramount.
Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for our free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics. See more cyber safety and cyber ethics blogs produced exclusively for EarthLink. Looking for a social media parental control? Try a 30-day free trial of Bark. If you sign up after your trial, Bark donates 25% of your monthly fee to Savvy Cyber Kids.
Thank you to the Savvy Cyber Kid’s sponsors!
Interested in becoming a Savvy Cyber Kids sponsor? Email Ben Halpert.