The following rules apply to your password. Use one capital letter, one number and one symbol. The symbol cannot be a * ( ) $ or !. No spaces, no running ………… Ahhhhh! We live in a society literally locked with all of the rules about passwords and the growing instances of identity theft.
But there is one item we have failed to “password protect,” OUR CHILDREN!
I grew up in the golden age of technology. Passwords are everywhere and they protect all my personal documents, money and online orders. My computer is recognized as a registered safe device and if I try to log in from somewhere else I have extra security questions I have to answer. What was my first dog’s name? What is my mother’s maiden name? What is my favorite vacation spot? The list goes on and on and on. Most parents would gladly give up all the things that are password protected if it meant keeping their children safe.
In 1983, Congress declared April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Since then, April has been a time for reflection and action regarding child abuse. In the United States, an estimated 686,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2012, and more than 3.8 million children received preventative services. So what can we do?
Protecting our children should be one of our highest priorities. One easy way to protect them is similar to how we protect our money, social media site and email. We use passwords and other security measures to protect our money, information and electronics; why not our children?
Recently in Oklahoma, a man approached two young girls who had a lemonade stand and asked them if they wanted to help him make a movie. What if the girls had asked the man, “What’s the password?” or “What is my mother’s maiden name?” Another youngster was told he was to be picked up because his father was in the hospital. A simple, “What’s the password?” or “Where is my favorite vacation place?” could prevent a child from falling victim to a potential perpetrator. Passwords are there to protect our treasures when we are not physically there to protect them ourselves.
Are passwords foolproof? No. Do accounts still get hacked? Yes. However, knowing the information and taking precautions assists in protecting our valuables. So how hard is it to protect your children with a password? It isn’t.
Visit with your children about protection; have conversations. Choose security questions and passwords they know, but would not be known by everybody else. Inside jokes, positive family secrets or favorite events are all a good place to start. Protect your children by setting your passwords and changing them regularly. Where is your favorite place? @nywhere my ch!ld is safe!!
By Lucas Moody, SOS Child Advocacy Center director