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    Thank you to the following organizations for their support:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Here's where we're coming from:

    As our lives become more integrated with different forms of technology, the subject of safety continues to be important to all of us. You may hear the terms "cybersafety" or "digital safety" used whenever the topic of being safe in our online interactions comes up. We are shifting the focus of digital safety - these values help shape what we do and why.

     

    Our Values

     

     Scare tactics don’t work.

    Scare tactics are designed to scare you – it’s the idea that bad things will happen if you don’t take precautions to protect yourself. Some common cybersafety messages sound like:   

    • don’t use your real name online

    • don’t show photos with identifying information - a school uniform, a location that can be identified, etc.
    • only “friend” people who you already know in real life

     Additionally, these messages are very general and don’t usually address the most common ways that young people get exploited through the use of online technology, like agreeing to meet with someone older who they don't know in real life. Our goal is to help highlight the most useful precautions and open up a larger discussion about respect and personal responsibility. One P.O.P! member said "We're taught to prevent ourselves from being victims, rather than being taught about how to not do these things to others."

    While taking precautions like the ones above could help people feel safe online, there is an implied message behind them - that you have the responsibility of preventing others from doing bad things, which is simply not true. The truth is that we are all responsible for our own actions, both on and offline, and if we take all of the precautions we can to make ourselves safe and something bad happens anyway, it is not our fault. For example, if someone posts where their art class is located and then gets bullied outside of their classroom, they did not ask to be bullied by posting the location of their class. Because we are focused on promoting respect, consent, and healthy relationships, you will notice that the conversations in 100 Conversations spotlight personal responsiblity.


    Technology is a good thing.

    We believe that the benefits of technology outweigh potential hazards. During focus groups, we regularly heard young people enthusiastically list all of the ways that technology is positive - including the ability to: find information easily, talk with people who are geographically far away, find others who share similar values and beliefs, get support, and stay in touch with loved ones. Does this mean that bad things don’t happen online? No - we know they do, but digital technology is not the problem; a culture that is supportive of sexual violence is the problem, which is why we are working to create a culture of equality, respect, and knowledge about prevention. 

     
     

    Young people already do things to keep themselves safe.

    In our survey of 74 youth in King County, 100% of the young people surveyed reported doing at least one thing to increase their safety online, with 87% reporting doing three or more things, including "using antivirus software," "using privacy settings," and "only friending people they already know." We don’t need to convince young people to think about their safety when using digital technology - this is something they are already concerned with and take action on. What we need to do is get clear about what is useful, what real risks look like, and what we can do both on and offline to create healthy relationships, respect, and equality.

     

    Young people are our partners in this work.

    We have chosen to work with young people. We know that in order to work together effectively we need to be working in partnership. As much as we can provide young people with research, tools, knowledge, and our perspective, they are the ones who are going to create real change within their communities. Because of this, our efforts in promoting safety are youth driven – we work with a core group of youth leaders who get together with us to learn about current research and prevention efforts, and then take charge of messaging what they know will best reach their peers. We realize that our perspectives might be different, and we might have different relationships with technology, but we can learn a lot from each other and our work will be better for it.

     

    Communication is the key.

    During our focus groups, young people overwhelmingly stated that they would rather get information about dating, sex, and safety from their parents, friends, or trusted adults than from a class or book. These conversations aren’t always easy to have. This is why we are committed to helping make these conversations easier to have for all of us. Every time we talk about important subjects, we build resiliency and trust. This is an opportunity for young people to guide adults in how to have healthy conversations with the young poeple in their lives. For more information about conversations, click here.