weebird20
03-21-2007, 12:32 PM
Ok, this subject came up today in work...what policy should there be for leaders when using sites such as Bebo, Myspace, etc. and MSN, when it comes to the kids we work with?

First a little background...

* PAKT is a community project run by the YMCA.
* We are very open about the Christianity aspect of the project.
* We work with about 40 families in one area.
* We have one Community Project Officer that oversees all the activities.
* There are about 9 volunteers who help run theses activities. Aged between 18-26 years old...mostly around the 20 mark.
* we run separate activities for after-schoolers, teenagers, parents and then family activities.
* The teenager activities include a youth group and drop'in centre.

Righty, now you kinda know something about PAKT i can explain what i mean by the internet and work...

A few things have come to light in work recently about how some of our leaders who have Bebo's, Myspace's etc. are on the friends lists of a lot of the teenagers who would come along to our youth group or drop'in centre...and many of them talk away to each other...have photos of each other and generally just commuicate through the internet using these...

Now what harm is there in this?

The kids know the leaders...most of the parents (though not all) know the leaders but may not necessarily know their kids talk to them online...

Some incidences have happened over the last few months (not involving any of our leaders) concerning the teenagers and using these methods of communicating online...which have caused the YMCA to start looking at there child protection policies and how the internet should be brought into it...

example...

no leader is allowed to be on their own with a child (no matter what age) this is to cover both the child and the leader...

MSN is talking one on one with another person...its like having a conversation in private...which would be similar to the situation above, that we are not allowed to place ourselves in...

The YMCA have suggested that the leaders don't have any communication with the teenagers through the internet, as it can bring up to many issues...so they have said that we are to remove any of the teenagers from friends lists and any photos of them as a precaution...the child protection policy we have at the moment does not include internet use and so this need to be reviewed more throughly...


So given this information...what do you guys think about it all?

unshakeable15
03-21-2007, 12:49 PM
Hmm. Some things to consider.

Myspace: You can post comments to a friend's page for everyone to see, so it's not a private convo.

IM: it's a private conversation between you and someone else. But you can add people to a conversation, making it a group convo.

Telephone: You can have a private conversation with a student, even if people can hear snippets of your side of the conversation. How is this different that IMing?

weebird20
03-21-2007, 01:00 PM
good points mike...

One of the YMCA's concerns is the leaders and how accusations can easily be made against them because internet activity can't be moderated...

MSN
Although others can be added to convos online...they don't have to be...no one can listen in to those convos either...so you kinda are alone that way...

Mysapce/Bebo
The age difference between the some of the leaders and the teenagers is a lot...say 12 and 22...and with most of our volunteers being guys...and for some reason older guys talking to a lot younger girls is looked at differently...this is seen as a concern...

Telephone
I hadn't thought of this one...but that does remind me...we did have one of our older guy leaders come to us a few weeks back complaining that one of our younger teenager girls had obtained his mobile phone number from the emergency list we have on our office wall...and had sent him many texts over one weekend...

The Lamma
03-21-2007, 01:25 PM
For telephones, you could put it on speakerphone. As for the internet stuff, are the leaders accessing it from home or YMCA?

weebird20
03-21-2007, 01:36 PM
The telephone thing is no problem really...apart from that one texting incident...

This is all in their own time...so while they are not at work at PAKT...when they access the internet...is it ok to talk to the teenagers over the internet...

dawn of light
03-21-2007, 02:49 PM
I wouldn't necessarily make it a strict policy...
But the leaders who want to protect themselves should probably keep a habit of only talking one on one to teenagers of the same gender. Or on a publicly viewed space such as comments on myspace and not messages. I'd skip the msn also. I think it's especially important for male leaders to have these high standards when it comes to talking to teenage girls.

The Lamma
03-21-2007, 02:55 PM
This is all in their own time...so while they are not at work at PAKT...when they access the internet...is it ok to talk to the teenagers over the internet...

Does this mean there is only policy at work? If so, you could impliment a site blocker, and that would cut out some sites. But I don't know if I fully understood what you meant there.

skynes
03-22-2007, 02:50 AM
In the UK child protection laws state that a leader cannot be alone with a child. This is to protect the child from any potentially dodgy leaders AND to protect the leader, because if that child goes "that leader touched me" the leader is screwed without a leg to stand on.

Now, with the MSN and Bebo. The child protection laws don't cover how leaders are to interact with children that way.

As in, the leader at their home on Bebo, has added the child in their home on Bebo.

As I said child Protection laws don't currently cover the internet. Yet there's clearly a possibility for trouble there.

somasoul
03-23-2007, 06:34 AM
There is software you can purchase to moniter everything on a computer. You could load it in and all that information could be forwarded to someone with accountability.

Older men talking to girls online is dangerous, even "good Christian men". We are inherently sinful. I'm of the belief that teenagers shouldn't have a computer in their room, that it should be out in the open for all to see. Of course, this doesn't help leaders if it isn't the case for all the teenagers.

Tough decision.

skynes
03-23-2007, 07:21 AM
There is software you can purchase to moniter everything on a computer. You could load it in and all that information could be forwarded to someone with accountability.

This would require every single family in the estate and every single leader and the entire YMCA and youth groups of Carrickfergus having this software.

This would work if it was only one set of PCs, but it isn't. You'd have to convince all the parents to buy this software themselves and install it at home, as the Youth Group struggles just to pay the bills never mind buying software for people.

Older men talking to girls online is dangerous

Agreed, but we're not talking 30-40 yr olds. We're talking 17-19yr olds talking to the teenagers a few years younger...

*thinks*

Actually thats even more dangerous...

The Lamma
03-23-2007, 08:36 AM
You could just have it uploaded at the building, for the time being, until they figure something better out.

skynes
03-23-2007, 09:19 AM
You could just have it uploaded at the building, for the time being, until they figure something better out.

This has nothing to do with their buildings.

This has to do with Leaders AT HOME talking to teenagers AT HOME outside of any Youth event and work hours.

The Lamma
03-23-2007, 09:22 AM
Ok. Weebird said: This is all in their own time...so while they are not at work at PAKT...when they access the internet...is it ok to talk to the teenagers over the internet...

It kinda had me confuzzled.

forceflow17
03-23-2007, 09:25 AM
I think what she meant was, there are no laws or regulations prohibiting leader to minor contanct online. What i think she is saying is that this could become a problem that should be taken care of before it becomes a problem.

forceflow17
03-23-2007, 09:25 AM
skynes, correct me if i am wrong in my asessment

The Lamma
03-23-2007, 09:28 AM
Oh, ok. I think I finally might get it...

skynes
03-23-2007, 10:11 AM
This is all in their own time...so while they are not at work at PAKT...when they access the internet...is it ok to talk to the teenagers over the internet

De-Laurafied:

In the leaders own time, while they are not working. When they are at home on the internet, is it ok for them to talk to teenagers who are also at their own homes on the internet.

The Lamma
03-23-2007, 02:13 PM
And its that 'ok' part thats the problem?

skynes
03-23-2007, 03:27 PM
And its that 'ok' part thats the problem?

That's the question. Is it or is it not ok?

The Lamma
03-23-2007, 03:29 PM
Oh, ok. It really depends whats going on...but that doesn't solve nuttin.

skynes
03-24-2007, 03:34 AM
It really depends whats going on...but that doesn't solve nuttin.


How can you know what's going on, how can you monitor it, how can you stop it if something is going on?

Many questions like these all add to the issue.

dawn of light
03-25-2007, 10:24 AM
In the leaders own time, while they are not working. When they are at home on the internet, is it ok for them to talk to teenagers who are also at their own homes on the internet.

This was my answer to your question... Not sure if it got lost among the confusion.
I wouldn't necessarily make it a strict policy...
But the leaders who want to protect themselves should probably keep a habit of only talking one on one to teenagers of the same gender. Or on a publicly viewed space such as comments on myspace and not messages. I'd skip the msn also. I think it's especially important for male leaders to have these high standards when it comes to talking to teenage girls.

weebird20
03-26-2007, 06:02 AM
i like what you had to say Rachel...i would prefer that the YMCA would take this stance...but i think they want to do away with all of it...so we have no communication with the kids whatsoever online...this way they and their leaders are covered...

Im not really sure how i feel about this...i talk to some of the teenagers i work with...both male and female...online outside work hours and have never had any problems with things such as inappropriate conversations...those i would speak to are teenagers who haven't been to the youth club in a while or those i haven't seen in some time...we would talk about how they are doing and what new things are happening...

I really think that it should be the leaders responsiblity to keep any contact with the teenagers appropriate...if we are involved in work with children or teenagers we should be aware of the regulations and child protection policies that the organization we work for have...


Scott suggested that we run a few sessions on internet safety...i know that my organization did this a few years ago..but maybe its time for a refresh for both the leaders and the teenagers....

The Lamma
03-26-2007, 12:27 PM
Just remember that if you doing an internet safety course that it won't necessarily help with things. People can learn about stuff, but they must choose to apply it.

weebird20
03-28-2007, 03:28 AM
It may not change anything...yes i know that...I wasn't suggesting it would be an answer to all this...i'm looking at it in the same way that we deal with our child protect and safety policies...we go through those each year with our new and old leaders...this is to make sure we are all aware of what our organization asks of us...

The Lamma
03-28-2007, 12:17 PM
Ok. I hope you guys figure out something...We haven't come up with a whole lot. If anything pops into my little ol' brain, I'll be sure to mention it.