When I was a child we were very aware of "stranger danger." That basically meant, don't talk to adults at the park who you don't know, don't take lollies from strangers, and don't get into people's cars.
Now, stranger danger is a whole new thing and any child with a phone or device is constantly engaging with strangers. Many of these strangers are posing as other children or young people but they are not. Our young people are smart in their own ways, and the new generation has a savviness of their own that we may never fully understand, but despite everything we tell them, it is very hard for them to see through the smokescreen of an intelligent and devious adult with their own agenda. Please have a look at your children's devices and the conversations they are having.
The other danger is the level of cruelty in what people say to each other in written form. Most people are good-hearted and can see if they've said something hurtful and regret it instantly. Online you can't see the results and again, even though the children are smart in their own way, and are good people, they can't see the effects of their actions and this can lead to extreme hurt.
I was very concerned about this earlier in the year, and continue to be concerned. I used to write in the blog advising to keep children off social media which is restricted to 13 years and above, but that's a losing battle. Given that once they have a device or phone they will find their way onto these things, the adults have to take steps to actively monitor what they are doing.
Earlier this year I contacted Rob and Zareen Cope to see if they would do something for our school parents but the cost was huge. Then I found out many other schools in Oamaru were doing the same thing and as a result, we are able to offer you a Cyber Safety Evening at Waitaki Boys' HIgh school on Monday 13th September. It is offered by most of the schools in Oamaru and we are grateful to Waitaki Boys for hosting it. If your child has a phone/device or is likely to get one you really need to go to this. Please mark it in your diary as a must as no-one, no matter how good or careful they are, is fully immune to this.