“It’s ok to ask questions”: St. Jude’s Ranch for Children hosts webinar to shine light on online safety for youth

June is National Safety Month and St. Jude’s Ranch for Children is calling attention to online predators and teaching youth to navigate the digital world safely.

A recent survey by the Center for Cyber Security and Education revealed that 40% of children grades 4-8 in the U.S. have connected or chatted with a stranger online. Of that population, 53% gave their phone number to a stranger and 15% tried to meet a stranger.

These numbers show why it is important to have courageous conversations with youth about what they are seeing online and how to stay safe.

“If your child has access to the internet, it’s most likely they’ve already seen some type of inappropriate picture or video. It’s time to start talking to them,” said Stephanie Clawson, producer of the award-winning short film “Groomed.”

The film shows how easy young people fall prey to predators and traffickers on social media. Clawson says she created the film based off of her own experiences in trying to help child victims of sex trafficking in her community. Her advice to parents, “it’s ok to ask questions,” said Clawson. “Ask questions, do your research and learn more for their safety.”

Clawson was joined alongside St. Jude’s Ranch for Children’s CEO Dr. Christina Vela. “These are hard topics to talk to our children about. As our kids are engaging with the internet it is critically important that we equip parents, caregivers and adults with information. That we also help you find pathways to have these courageous conversations with your children so that they too can start to discern for themselves and start to feel empowered about making good choices for themselves. And we know that’s not easy,” Dr. Vela said.

Don’t know where to start? Here are resources for parents, caregivers and adults to follow:

Child Safety presentation

Stephanie Clawson https://www.stephanieclawson.com/

Groomed – YouTube

Be Internet Awesome – A Program to Teach Kids Online Safety

Missed the webinar? Click here to watch the full recording.