Camping and the Cyber-Porn Generation

Download

When campers and staff go home at the end of the day, week, or summer they generally take with them fond memories of their experiences and of the relationships they formed. More and more they are also returning home armed with IM (Instant Messenger) screen-names, email addresses, and profile names for web-based blog services such as myspace.com and facebook.com. Campers and counselors alike are sharing this contact information both within their peer groups as well as with each other. This cyber-savvy generation is better connected than ever before, and the risks associated with this level of instantaneous contact outside of your camp– abuse, cyber-bullying, cyber-dating, cyber-porn and inadvertently shared personal information – are both scary and real; the opportunity for abuse is (either willfully or negligently) profound.

The following statistics may be surprising –

  • 87% of youth (about 21 million teens) go online
  • 64% of teens do things online that they say that they would not share with their parents
  • 54% prefer to be alone when surfing on the net
  • 56% of teens have posted a profile (including name and other private information) where others can see it publicly
  • 40% trust the people they chat with on the Internet
  • 20% have arranged to meet an online friend in person in the real world
  • 20% have received a sexual solicitation or approach in the last year.

So, what do we know?

  • The most popular websites are myspace.com and facebook.com.
  • Myspace.com has over 54 million registered users…about 16 million teen users.
  • Facebook.com users are no longer restricted to those attending a participating college-anyone with a valid email address may create a profile.
  • Each of the websites have age minimums to register – 14 years old for myspace.com, 13 years old for facebook.
  • Searches may be performed on any site by name, email address, or location. Information found in the profiles ranges from completely innocent to profane, from prom date to pornography.

And, what can YOU do?
The key to preventing inappropriate conduct between campers and counselors and to protect your campers and staff from potential predators is education.

  • NO OUTSIDE CONTACT should be a clear and strictly enforced personnel policy (Code of Conduct) expectation.
  • Staff should not share the addresses of their personal web-pages and blogs with campers.
  • Staff should be educated about messages that they post on their blogs and profiles – the information could reflect badly on the camp and/or may adversely influence a potential employer if it is discovered in a web search as part of the firm’s hiring practices.
  • Educate parents about the NO OUTSIDE CONTACT policies and ask that they partner with you. Parents should be aware if campers and staff are interacting in any medium outside of the programs and should be encouraged to inform you.

Additional information on this subject may be found in the article “At Risk: Cyber World Invasion” found in the 3/13/06 edition of Risky Business, a semimonthly publication of Y-Mutual Insurance, Ltd.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.

Comments 

Submit a comment