Making Your Internet Safety 101 Training a Success

As a community or school leader responsible for marketing an Internet Safety 101 training event the work can seem overwhelming and leave you uncertain about who will attend.  The best-attended and most successful events, however, all share certain characteristics.  Effective marketing about the program will also provide an additional benefit—you have an opportunity to get plugged into your children’s school or your community more deeply and build stronger relationships with school administrators and other community leaders.

Last fall, Trinity Christian School of Fairfax, Virginia, held a very successful training program that attracted more than 150 parents.  For a school with a Middle and Upper school student population of approximately 400, and an entirely voluntary event, this represents a sizeable portion of the parent community.  Inquiries and follow-up conversations among parents since the program occurred indicate that parents who were not able to attend are attempting to get the program and conversations about the topic are happening within the parent community.  The goal of increasing parental attention on the issue of Internet Safety has been achieved.

There are only two simple keys to unlocking a great event: engaging the school or organization’s leadership and using their communications tools to announce and market the training event; and, building a team that will promote the event through individual invitation and word of mouth marketing.

Engaging the school or organization’s leadership

 

  1. Start talking with your school’s principal or headmaster early and educate them on the risks to students of inappropriate Internet and social networking.  Purchase and provide them with a copy of the Internet Safety 101 (IS101) materials so that they can review them.
  2. Raise the issue as both a community need and a risk management issue.  Principals, community leaders, and organization officials all understand the need to protect the children in their care and their school or organization from lawsuits, negative publicity, and damage to their reputation.  Newspaper and media reports of Internet bullying, improper social networking between students and teachers, and sexual exploitation by predators appear regularly and preventive training can help schools and organizations manage these risks and better protect their children.
  3. Inquire of the organization or school leadership whether their insurance carrier will provide better coverage or lower rates as a result of such training.  The material in the IS101 curriculum can serve as part of an effort to address sexual harassment training needs.  In some cases, insurance carriers will provide only limited coverage until proof that staff or faculty have been trained on sexual harassment and proper use of electronic communications technology.
  4. Work with the school or organization’s leadership to schedule a training event in the same manner as any other major parent event.  There should be no other competing activity on the organization or school calendar and sufficient time should be allotted for substantial training at the event.  A two-hour program communicates the seriousness of the issue and makes it possible for those attending to get a substantial amount of information.
  5. In the event at the Fairfax school, the event was posted on the School’s activity calendar.  The School also emailed all middle and upper school parents and posted information about the event shortly after it was scheduled.
  6. Make live appeals at school or organization sponsored events.  The lead parent responsible for overseeing the event appeared at two back to school nights and made a presentation to all of the middle and upper school parents, setting out the date and speaking briefly about the need for such training.  In addition, the School’s Headmaster also spoke to affirm the School’s view that the opportunity was a key to protecting the entire student body.
  7. The School sent a final email the day before the event reminding all parents about the training opportunity.

Build word of mouth marketing.

  1. One week prior to the parent training, an in-service training program on Internet safety was given to all faculty and staff at the school.  As several faculty members are also parents of students at the school, additional word of mouth advertising from those faculty members was generated.  The same result may be achieved by providing each faculty member with a “Rules and Tools” Booklet, which is part of the IS101 curriculum for their review a week or more prior to the parent training.
  2. The lead parent wrote a personal letter two days before the event and emailed it to all families in those grades where they had students.
  3. As you can see, capturing the attention of parents on such a important issue is possible once the leadership of the entity has been fully engaged.  Likewise, as with most events, personal recommendations or encouragement work to communicate the importance of the event in ways that even official communications will not.  By investing time to reach all of the parents whose children attend the school, Trinity Christian School was able to energize and equip a sizable portion of the school community and lay the groundwork for a continued focus on Internet safety.

Editor’s note: Please check out our “How to Use the Internet Safety 101 Program Guide” with more information to help you or contact us if you would like to become an Internet Safety 101 Program facilitator.

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1 Comment

  1. John D

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks again for your presentation Saturday at the Parents Unite conference. As I mentioned to you I have been recovery from S Addiction for many years (since 1996) via Sexaholics Anonymous. As you can see my time was just about pre-Internet (Thank You, God the Father) and I avoided the “crack cocaine” of Sex Addiction (online Porn) for the most part.

    As I mentioned to you, the idea for a “Surgeon General’s Warning” (SGW), like the one on a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of liquor, to reach the still suffering addict via the internet is not my idea. I was “surrendering my a** off” (as we say in SA slang) in prayer to keep from acting out one day and I told God I would do whatever he asked of me if I just stayed sober that one day. I had my eyes closed at the time and the answer I got was a series of images of a computer where a porn page had a Surgeon General’s-type warning label on it that doubled as a hyperlink to a web page with resources for recovery on it. In effect the addict is two or three clicks away from help. I just want the idea put into action.

    You see, the research I have seen regarding alcoholics finally-realizing-they-have-an-addiction indicates that the typical addict requires 50 interactions with an authority figure prior to accepting this truth about themselves and then going to get help. In the case of alcoholics, the 50 interactions are more easily attained as their bad behavior is usually observed by members of the public (police, parents, peers and family). We sex addicts suffer from the athletes-foot-of-the-soul. We are like spiders hidden away from everyone else who then dart out and snatch what we think we need when we no one is looking. With internet porn that taking-from-others is made infinitely easier than previously possible.

    So, how does one deliver 50 interactions to the porn addict who is hiding in his room or basement and acting out online? The answer is you go into the addict’s space in the same way the porn does – via the internet. But you don’t ask him to invite you in – you piggy back on the porn. In fact, to avoid the “censorship” charge we only enter into that secret hiding space when the user looks at sex related topics – whether medical, legitimate or perverse. We are just another source of information for the user in the great market place of ideas.

    The warning label is a hyperlink to a landing page which would include a collection of links to every possible mode of treating the disease of sex addiction or sexual compulsion. I would suggest even links to those who think there is no disorder as sex or porn addiction – the experience of the addict will quickly put the lie to that idea. Any skeptics refusalto participate signals a fear on their part they are wrong and this can be used to goad them into participating. The most important thing is carrying the message to the addict who still suffers – the addict gets the 50 interactions he needs all the while he is obsessively acting out so that he can finally realize he is dying.

    I have recommended this Surgeon General Warning (SGW) idea to several government authorities with no success. I even sent the idea to Enough is Enough several years ago, but didn’t hear back. Those attempts were all about having the government require the SGW on any web page with sexual content. As we discussed, the government ain’t gonna require that at this time.

    But then I learned (from a guy in the fellowship) that the best way to have said SGW come up whenever a user hits on a sex related topic is via a browser add-on. And you indicated that Enough-is-Enough has some juice with the browser providers (MS, Google, Mozilla, etc.). If Enough-is-Enough could convince them to have this browser add-on go out to everyone via a software update, then the government would not need to get involved at all.

    Here are some thoughts:
    1. The browser add-on should have several setting choices for the user. The default should be 100% active so that parents and children would get the warning that a site that is coming up has sex related content. Then the browser producers could have the settings fall back from there in stages to the point where the user can, if they wish, turn off the SGW completely (for a period of time say 30-days), but then it comes back up, Perhaps after 10 periods of being suspended at the user’s request and comping back the user can disable the SGW permanently.

    2. The user settings can even increase or decrease the size of the SGW.

    3. The SGW should always read the same thing. ” Warning: Medical research indicates that viewing of pornography can lead to Obsessive or Addictive sexual behaviors that may become self-destructive. Click here to learn more.”

    4. The landing page should have links to all opinions related to sex addiction. None should be avoided (but I hope the true opinions would be given pride of place). And the landing page should have information concerning all types of sexual acting out – not just criminal or non-criminal behavior. I would think that small videos of recovering addicts could be used to educate the suffering addict. We call it 12th-Step work.

    5. Monetizing the SGW. It can be monetized. The US Government would love to be able to know who among their employees with Top Secret security clearances thinks they may have a sex addiction. Sexual addiction may not be a DSM IV diagnosis, but it is a reason to pull a security clearance due to an Executive Order of the President. That information can be sold to DHS or the FBI. In addition, professionals who wish to be listed on the site for referrals could be asked to support the web site. Even 12-Step groups that wish to be listed on the site could be asked to contribute. They have to be fully self-supporting and contributing to carry the message is an established function of the 12-Step Groups.

    6. There is probably a legal protection case to be made for the Browser providers in that if a potential user went on to commit heinous crimes and he argues he could have been stopped if he had known he was sick, then the victims might be able to sue the browser providers for not taking this reasonable step of informing the browser user via this means.

    And since you are an attorney, I surrender any legal rights to the implementation of this idea so that you and Enough-is-Enough can pursue making it a reality without worry I will come back and sue you.

    Good Luck Robert!! tens of thousands of suffering addicts and their future victims are relying on you… not to put too much pressure on you.

    In Sobriety through the grace of God,
    John D.

    PS most people don’t know how AA actually came up with the 12-Steps. It happened this way, Bill W. was stuck in Akron, OH and very tempted to drink. So, he called around to different churches to see if anyone knew of a drunk so desperate that Bill could talk to him about how God had saved him. He gathered a couple of fellow alkies together and started to visit the drunk tank at a Catholic psychiatric hospital. Bill and his initial followers used 6-steps they took from the Oxford Christian Fellowship Group. Unfortunately, only BIll W. stayed sober. After repeated failure these first AA-ers went to the nurse in charge of the drunk tank at the Catholic hospital to get her advice. Although she was a nun, she said she was not a spiritual expert and referred them to Fr. Ed Dowling, SJ – the hospital chaplain. Fr. Ed noted that the 6-steps in their then program had “loopholes” and he wrote 6 more steps to plug those. Fr. Ed told them they now had 12-steps.

    PPS most people don’t know that Fr. Ed was an overeater and a heavy smoker. He reportedly decided to try the 12-steps he had just gave to AA on his food and smoking addictions. Fr. Ed found it worked for him too. This was a good thing for 1934-1935. But Over Eaters Anonymous and Smokers Anonymous did not start in the 1930s. They started in the 1970s. Almost 40 years of suffering addicts went to their graves without knowing about the healing power of the 12-steps that Fr. Ed used… I think Fr. Ed had some explaining to do when he met God. Fr. Ed had been given the gift of life over these addictions, but he did not start OA or Smokers Anonymous… I don’t want to answer that sort of question when I meet God at the end of my life….

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