Facebook say they have “no objection in principle” to installing an anti-paedophile panic button on its site for kids who feel that they may be in danger.….
This one statement has produced two different sides of coverage…..
Facebook rules out installing ‘panic button’
What exactly does that statement mean?
Facebook was criticised for not doing enough to protect our youngsters after the murder of Ashleigh Hall. The schoolgirl was killed by 33 year old serial rapist Peter Chapman who pretended to be young boy on the site and lured her to her death.
However it seems that a CEOP panic button would not have helped Ashleigh as it has been reported that she didn’t suspect his motives so she had no reason to feel threatened by him, he seemed to her like a pleasant teenage boy. This led her to secretly meet him, telling her mum she was staying at a friend’s house – soon later she was dead.
I’m not sure why Facebook would not want to install a CEOP Panic button; I originally thought they were concerned about blatant misuse and the unavoidable work that would go into monitoring it. However reports from the CEOP ‘Report Abuse’ mechanism go directly to the child exploitation and on line protection intelligence centre and the team there then analyse, assess and take appropriate action according to the perceived risk and threat to an individual child, so I assume it would not be any more work or cost to Facebook am I wrong?
MSN and Bebo have had these buttons for some time and I believe they are working for them.
Facebook do have their own links on the help page already for various concerns about harassment, bullying or suspected paedophiles but you do have to look for them. A button on each page would mean immediate reporting.
Whether or not this Button materialises or not it still remains apparent that we need to educate our children. They too, like to social network online which I assume is why they have 400+ friends on their accounts, there is no way at 15 etc they “know” this many people and the strangers that they are friends with are gaining information and looking at pictures of them each day, and especially where children/teenagers are concerned this is not good and not safe.
Trust is a two way street
We can help as parents to keep the communications open, so that teens will feel comfortable enough talk to us about what they are doing in their lives.
Some key features that we know but sometimes forget….
Be Available – don’t always say “In a minute”.
Don’t ask too many difficult questions – they will clam up.
Try not to be defensive.
Be straight forward in giving feedback.
Talk about yourself, not always about what they do wrong.
Continue with physical affection – let them know you care.
Always give positive feedback when they do right.
Protecting our kids
We would all like some way of protecting our teenagers from these beasts other than the usual advice (like these) which some youngsters choose to ignore, teenagers know best, right? We need to reinforce these guidelines.
- Never meet someone on your own – especially not without telling your family exactly where you are going. MOST IMPORTANT!
- You cannot trust anyone, (sad but true) even if they promise you the world.
- Be sensible about what information you put on your profile page – obviously never put your address or phone number.
- In order to prevent harassment from strangers, be careful to accept friend requests only from people you know in real life.
- Always report any messages or profiles that look suspicious.
- If someone is abusive use “Report/Block person” link that appears at the bottom of the user’s profile.
- Don’t have suggestive or sexual profile pictures this can only attract the wrong type of person.
- Be careful what photos you let everyone see, only put pictures in albums you would be happy for your mum to see – “friends only” is a an excellent privacy button.
- Remember there is a link to report a possible sex offender on the Facebook help page, so if you are concerned use this link
Facebook has an age limit of 13; there is a reason for this. Maybe you didn’t realise how easy it is for kids to bypass this; perhaps it might help if Facebook made this harder to access. It worries me that children of this age or younger could be targeted; perhaps you think the age limit should be higher?
These guidelines don’t stop the fun, chatting and playing games with their friends on line, that is what it’s all about but it is time to start being a bit more vigilant and see if we can get our kids to be. On its own I’m still not convinced another link/button will help but alongside some basic guidance and our help, it will assist. It’s a dangerous world out there; we need to not invite it into our homes.