The Orangeville Police Service presents the following crime prevention tips:
Personal Safety Advice
Personal safety is everyone's responsibility. We are pleased to provide you with a common sense approach to helping you stay safe while at home, in the community and in your vehicle. Check out our personal safety brochure. Additional safety and support resources can be found by contacting Caledon Dufferin Victim Services at http://www.cdvs.ca.
Internet Safety Advice
The Orangeville Police Service is pleased to provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your family's computer use. As a parent, only you can judge what constitutes a positive and educational online experience for your children. We're trying to provide the material for you to make educated decisions for your child, but remember -- not making a decision is a decision.
Parenting for the virtual world is very similar to parenting in the real world. You don't let your kids go anywhere unsupervised before you're sure they know the rules and how to handle themselves. You don't encourage your kids to talk to strangers, especially if you're not around. And you try to keep an eye on what your kids are doing, what they're interested in, how they're spending their time, and with whom they're spending their time.
Before Your Child Goes Online
- Teach yourself about the Web. Many public libraries and community centres offer information sessions that cover logging on to the Web, searching for information, and what sorts of places you can visit online (websites, chat rooms, email). If your kids are more familiar with the Web than you are (which is quite possible), doing a little legwork ahead of time will pay off when it's time to talk to them about online safety.
- Familiarize yourself with parental control software, and check out the control features of your online service or ISP. Some programs allow you to filter specific sites, a group of sites that the software deems inappropriate, or sites with inappropriate keywords in them. However, nothing is foolproof; new sites are created all the time that may not be caught by the programs. Having a filter program is not a substitute for supervising your child's online activities. Many families find that adding blocking and filtering programs to their regular supervision gives them additional peace of mind.
- Get to know the communication tools that your child may use. Besides surfing the Web, a good deal of a child's time online may be spent communicating and interacting with others. With the establishment of family guidelines, your child can have a safe and fun time participating in this new Internet community.
- Create a "Family Pledge For Online Safety" that clearly states what your children are and are not allowed to do online. Involve your children in the creation of the pledge, both as an opportunity for you to talk about the issues that will arise, and as a way to get their input and interest in the subjects. We're more likely to follow rules of our own making than those imposed upon us.
When Your Child is Online
As we mentioned, locating the computer in a public place is very important. In addition to letting you keep an eye on where your child is going on the Web, it makes it much easier for you to be a part of your child's online life. It's not a matter of not trusting your child to do the right thing; it's merely a matter of supervision and information. You probably wouldn't feel comfortable dropping your children off at the playground without keeping an eye on them, right? The same principles hold here.
Surf with your child--it can offer you a window into their interests, concerns, and ways of thinking. Enjoy this opportunity to have some fun together, while explaining to them what is and isn't appropriate for them to do, and why. This is a time of sharing, not of enforcement or patrolling; make it a fun and productive way to spend time with your kid.
Evaluating Web Content
When evaluating websites for your children to view a basic rule of thumb is to look for sites that meet "The Four A's" of good sites for kids: Accessible, Accurate, Appropriate, and Appealing.
- Accessible refers to how easy it is to access and navigate the site. Do you receive lots of error messages when you try to access it? Does it take 10 minutes to download? Do the links to other areas of the site work? Even if a site has great material, it won't do you any good if you can't reach it.
- Accurate means just that: how accurate is the information on the site? Sometimes it's easy to tell, but if it's an unfamiliar subject, you need to use other methods to determine the accuracy. One good indication is checking the author of the site. Most sites have an "about the author" section, so you can check if it's someone who looks like they have a lot of background in the subject.
- The Appropriateness of the site is partially dependent on your child. Obviously, some sites aren't designed for any children and the material on them is blatantly inappropriate. Other sites might cover an appropriate subject area, but are written at a level, which is too advanced or too simple for your child. You and your kid are the best ones to tell whether a site is at the right level.
- Appealing refers to how enjoyable a site is to use. Are the colours and graphics fun, or do they just make the site hard to read? Is the navigation of the site clear enough, so that you know how to get the information you want? If the process of getting the information is a struggle, the website is much less useful.
Online safety for our children is a family responsibility. The Orangeville Police Service would be happy to assist you with any further information you require. Please contact Constable Scott Davis at 519-941-2522 Ext. 2221 or by e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org