Seminar focuses on cyber threats to children

| 22/05/2017
CNS Local Life

World church risk manager Daisy Montes de Oca

(CNS Local Life): A special joint meeting of all Adventist churches in Cayman addressed the protection of children from dangers lurking on the Internet and ways in which adults and organisations can mitigate potential for abuse. The meeting, held as part of the Adventist Church’s observance of Child Month, took place Saturday, 13 May, at Kings Church.

Local and international speakers from business and child-services sectors attended the event, stated a church press release. The main presenters were Daisy Montes de Oca, responsible for risk management at the world headquarters of the Adventist Church in Washington, DC; and Rudy Myles, regional fraud manager with Flow Caribbean, based in Cayman. Montes de Oca was invited to Cayman by Pastor Shian O’Connor, President of the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Also speaking were Felicia Robinson, Director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and Cereta McDonald, Director of the Adventist Conference’s Children & Adolescents’ Ministries, under whose umbrella a full slate of Child Month activities has been organised.

Montes de Oca explained the types of behaviour that abused children might display, such as what they say, physical injuries, running away, depression and withdrawal.

She outlined the policies of the Adventist church designed to mitigate abuse, including the two-adult policy (one adult should not be alone with individual children or groups); the six-month probationary period for new church members; screening procedures; facility visibility for monitoring purposes; and training in local legal requirements for reporting of child abuse.

Montes de Oca said that if staff involved with children were not meeting standards, there was a duty to remove them.

She also covered safety procedures for outings, including permission forms, the recommended number of staff to children, transportation and equipment safety.

Myles urged parents to ensure that they know what is taking place on the devices they have provided for their children and in chat rooms they visit.

Myles also identified some of the unsafe apps children are allowed to use that enable access to call logs and identification of devices; can turn Wi-Fi on and off; and send harmful coaching messages through devices’ microphones, among other strategies to entrap and endanger unsuspecting teens.

To combat the ill-effects of these dangers, Myles said that parents should spend quality time with their children, avoid using computer devices as pacifiers, and embrace their responsibilities to care about what their children are viewing and to guide them appropriately.

He specifically urged parents to provide security of Internet connections at home and elsewhere, ensuring encrypted passwords; establish separate user accounts for adults and children; install age-appropriate content filters and security software; and set up systems to enable notifications about what their children are viewing.

“Talk to your children about the dangers of the Internet environment,” Myles said, adding, “As adults we need to be the sermon in the examples we set for children,” he said.

He also recommended some resources and tools for parents, including Net Nanny, Norton Family, Our Pact, Internet Safety 101, Adventist Risk Management Inc, Get Safe Online and Safety Net Kids.

One parent raised the possibility of workshops on protecting their children from abuses on the Internet.

“I would love to see the parent workshops come to reality this year as it has been asked for in the last two sessions that I have done,” Myles said. “It does require a lot of coordination, but it will bear fruit for the parents and children.”

McDonald reminded parents of the “overwhelming plight of children” who are abused, many quite often by those closest to them, a predicament complicated by increasing dangers on the Internet. She reminded attendees of the consequences of abuse, including obesity, addiction, risky behaviour, which can result in economic loss and other impacts on a national scale.

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Category: Education, Uncategorised

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