1 in 5 children who touch a digital device will be sexually solicited online
The month of April is both National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month – a designation with added meaning this April as safety experts and the FBI caution parents to keep personal and digital safety top-of-mind in the midst of stay-at-home orders, school closures, and social distancing. Lauren’s Kids, a South Florida-based nonprofit with international reach, is providing parents with free resources and safety strategies throughout the month of April to keep kids safe both in the real world and online, including a series of live digital programming with expert question and answer sessions.
“We know that 1 in 5 children who touch a digital device will be sexually solicited online,” says Lauren Book, founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids, a Florida State Senator, and a survivor of child sexual abuse herself. “Those who seek to abuse and exploit children online frequent the very same apps, games and social media sites as their intended victims – gaining trust, then exploiting it. It is critical for parents to be educated about these dangers, and what they can do to reduce the risk to their child.”
To help families with children of all ages stay safe from online and in-person predation, Lauren’s Kids is providing print and digital resources to Florida’s families at no cost and hosting a series of live and interactive safety programming, including questions and answers with experts. Offerings include:
Schedule includes ‘Lauren’s Kingdom’ safety story book reading, a digital safety discussion and expert Q&A with law enforcement, live safety activity lessons, and a discussion and Q&A with a trauma therapist from one of Florida’s children’s advocacy centers focused on de-escalation and coping with trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Developed by the Broward Sheriff’s Office Digital Safety Team and the Lauren’s Kids foundation, this tip sheet provides basic steps for digital safety – especially useful for parents of elementary and middle school students.
Designed for families with children from K-12, the Lauren’s Kids Safety Toolkit Generator provides tips, lessons, activities, and videos tailored to your child(ren)’s age(s) and level(s) of development. Just answer a few quick questions to help us pull together your custom toolkit, and get started on safety learning today! *Digital tool free for all
The Lauren’s Kids Blueprint for Building Safer, Smarter Families interactive activity pack helps families teach their elementary school aged children the basics of personal safety and the strategies needed to prevent abuse – all from a place of fun, not fear. Adults receive their own “parent pack” to use with their child, while kids follow along in their own workbook complete with crossword puzzles, word searches, crafts, roleplay scenarios, games and other entertaining activities. *Printed tool free for Florida families, available for purchase nationally and internationally; order at shop.laurenskids.org
This time is challenging on many levels…stress about physical and mental health and wellness, childcare, income and economy, and more. For survivors of sexual abuse, this extreme stress can trigger PTSD, anxiety, and depression related to past trauma and abuse — and with school closures, childcare pressures, and perhaps more time than usual on digital devices, it is important to be mindful of safety.
Lauren’s Kids offers FREE-for-Florida K-12 child sexual abuse, human trafficking, digital safety, and personal safety education curriculum, now being used by classroom teachers, guidance professionals, and district leaders to teach safety lessons as a part of online learning efforts statewide.
In addition to the resources above, Lauren’s Kids shares resources daily on its Facebook and Twitter pages – from free art lessons by popular children’s book illustrators and live digital story time with Florida firefighters to information for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and how to cope with PTSD triggered by the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lauren’s Kids also continues to offer its Guide to Hope & Healing at no cost to survivors and their families (free in print for Floridians, available digitally for all, printed copies available for purchase outside of Florida).