Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Internet INSECURITY

Many parents are already starting to feel that sense of dread as we move ever closer to the start of the school year.  For some it’s because those expensive school supply lists are beginning to arrive in the mailbox or inbox; for others because we dread the early morning departure or afternoon homework routines. But don’t count summer over just yet. And if your kids are bored, done with camps and vacations, maybe they’ve turned to the computer to fill some time.  If so, make sure you are watching their online activities.

With 90% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 using computers and 1 in 5 youth receiving unwanted sexual solicitations online*, it’s a fact that the Internet is a dangerous place for many children. Yet even more parents are unaware of the dangers faced daily by children online, and of those parents who are aware, they are unsure how to protect children.

So the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, Inc. decided we would help parents, professionals, and anyone interested.  When we joined Childhelp in the development of Speak Up Be Safe, we included Internet Safety and Cyberbullying as a part of the curriculum because of the importance of these topics in the lives of children and teens today.  And how great is it that others are taking notice and acting as well?

Facebook and Time Warner have joined forces to help stop cyberbullying, a real and dangerous threat facing youth today.  Read more about their Initiative, Stop Cyberbullying, Speak Up and their joint efforts here. 

And although Facebook rules require a teen to be 13 to create a profile, let’s not be that na├»ve – there are much younger kids on social networking sites and ALL parents need to be educated and vigilant.  Florida’s 1st through 5th grade students will learn Internet Safety and Cyberbullying prevention tips as Speak Up Be Safe sessions are implemented in all Florida public schools over the next 5 years.  But why wait? Parents, go to www.moniqueburrfoundation.org to download information and tips so you can become educated and empowered and teach your kids to be smarter and safer online now!

*http://kidsafe.com/freereports/Internet%20STATS%20Presented%20By%20CEN.pdf

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Florida United for Kids!

We know Florida is a state divided with some fans sporting orange and blue and others garnet and gold, and while we happened to be on the beautiful campus of UF this week, the MBF team and the summer academy participants were anything but divided.  We were there to train new Speak Up Be Safe™ facilitators, our first group of facilitators trained since the pilot phase ended. And while the groups both days were small, we were all united in our motivation to keep kids safe from the dangers facing them today!  As Dante Alighieri said, “A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark!”  Even with the small number trained, their motivation and commitment ensures we will see great things from them in the future.
The team also enjoyed a little time doing some teambuilding and preparing the Speak Up Be Safe™ program for the big “roll out” in the fall.  We have finalized the curriculum changes and are working hard to ensure the implementation for schools, districts and facilitators runs as smoothly as possible.  For our team, work and fun are NEVER mutually exclusive. We sure had a lot of both in Gainesville this week and we’ll see a tremendous outcome for it – a lot of safer kids in Florida because of this great program… So Speak Up with us Florida – it doesn’t matter if you’re in Gainesville wearing Orange and Blue or in Tallahassee with your Garnet and Gold or anywhere else in the state – on this issue we can all stand united!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

90% of child abuse is preventable - time to Speak Up and Be Safe Florida!

Florida has long been known for sandy beaches and theme parks but we've also been known for some other - not so sunny and fun - distinctions as well. Like having the 4th highest rate of child abuse in the country and having some very high profile cases of child abuse with very public and very bad outcomes. Come to think of it, one recent case actually happened at a theme park, and that was completely preventable. In fact, 90% of all child abuse is preventable.

While we'd much rather be sitting on one of those sandy beaches, the team at the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, Inc. is hard at work revising our new safety and child abuse prevention curriculum that we plan to make available to every 1st through 5th grade class in Florida by 2015, appropriately titled "Speak Up Be Safe™!" Our team, along with Childhelp, has been hard at work developing this program with the insight and contributions of experts for over a year now, and after a successful pilot phase in four Florida counties and with great feedback from our facilitators, we will be ready for full implementation in the fall. For the full history and more information about future implementation plans visit moniqueburrfoundation.org. 

Until then, stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for more details about Speak Up Be Safe™, the MBF team, and our very ambitious but achievable plans (you'll soon learn a bit more about some of the overachievers on our team which is why I say that). You will also be able to find great information on this blog about child abuse prevention, bullying and Internet safety - all important issues facing our kids, schools and communities today. Watch for some cool guest bloggers occasionally too! In the meantime you won't find us at the beach, but we are going on a road trip - so catch the team next time from Gainesville!