Talking about Hard Things is HARD.

 

You may have heard about a new Netflix series titled 13 Reasons Why, which is based on the novel by Jay Asher. The series portrays the story of a 17-year-old girl who takes her own life and leaves behind 13 recordings explaining the reasons (and persons) that contributed to her suicide. This show is rated TV-MA (not appropriate for children under 17) but we are aware that younger children are watching it as well. Even children who have not seen the show have likely heard about it at school. Due to the show’s popularity and mature content which includes scenes involving drugs, bullying, rape and suicide, we felt it was important to inform our clients of this social trend.

We strongly encourage you to consider the age, emotional health and developmental stage of your child before allowing them to watch. While the makers of the show have expressed the goal of raising important issues, there are concerns that it glamorizes suicide.

We also know that teens who were adopted have an attempted suicide rate that is higher than their non-adopted peers.   Of course, this doesn’t mean that ALL adoptees are depressed or have suicidal ideations – but it is true that those who were adopted have different, hard and confusing things to cope with and assimilate into their identities.  These hurts, struggles and curiosities can make it all the more hard for an adoptee to reach out with questions or requests for help.  The complexities of adoption might need to be part of your conversations about suicide in adoptive family homes.

We feel that children with a genetic risk factor for depression or a family history of suicide may be particularly vulnerable to this show’s messaging and imagery. Any teen who’s experienced a sexual assault should avoid the show, as those scenes will likely serve as emotional triggers. Be especially careful when considering whether children who have a history of suicidal thoughts, depression or mental health concerns should watch 13 Reasons Why.

If your child is watching this series, we recommend you watch it with them and discuss it afterward.   Follow-up conversations provide a good opportunity to talk with your child about important issues such as stress, depression, bullying, peer pressure and suicide. This can include how to support a struggling friend, or about their own feelings. If your child is expressing warning signs, don’t be afraid to ask them directly how they are feeling about suicide. We do know that an open conversation is the most important factor in suicide prevention.

You talk to your children about behaviors which can put them at personal risk -and suicide is no different. It’s something you CAN and SHOULD talk about with your children!  Contrary to myth, talking about suicide CANNOT plant the idea in someone’s head. It can actually open up communication about a topic that is often kept a secret. And secrets that are exposed to the rational light of day often become less powerful and scary. Through conversation, you also give your child permission to bring up the subject again in the future.  Approach this topic in the same way as other subjects that are important to you, but may or may not be important to your child.

Remember:

  • Timing is everything! Pick a time when you have the best chance of getting your child’s attention.
  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time and rehearse a script if necessary.
  • Be honest. If this a hard subject for you to talk about, admit it! (“You know, I never thought this was something I’d be talking with you about, but I think it’s really important”). By acknowledging your discomfort, you give your child permission to acknowledge his/her discomfort, too.
  • Ask for your child’s response. Don’t do all the talking. Ask open-ended questions.
  • Be direct! (“What do you think about suicide?”; “Is it something that any of your friends talk about?”; “The statistics make it sound pretty common. Have you ever thought about it? What about your friends?”)
  • Listen to what your child has to say. You’ve asked the questions, so simply consider your child’s answers. If you hear something that worries you, be honest about that, too (“What you’re telling me has really gotten my attention and I need to think about it some more. Let’s talk about this again, okay?”)
  • Don’t judge. And do not offer quick solutions or fixes.
  • Don’t overreact or under react. Overreaction will close off any future communication on the subject. Under reacting, especially in relation to suicide, is often just a way to make ourselves feel better. ANY thoughts or talk of suicide (“I felt that way a while ago but don’t any more”) should raise a flag for concern and follow-up.

Here are some possible warning signs that should get our attention:

STATEMENTS that convey a sense of hopelessness, worthlessness, or preoccupation with death (“ Life doesn’t seem worth it sometimes.”; “I wish I were dead.”; “Heaven’s got to be better than this.”)

BEHAVIORS that are different from the way your child acted in the past, especially things like talking about death or suicide, taking dangerous risks, withdrawing from activities or sports, or using alcohol or drugs.

FEELINGS that, again, seem different from the past like irritability, anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest.

SITUATIONS that can serve as ‘trigger points’ for suicidal behaviors. These include things like loss or death, getting in trouble at home, in school, or with the law, or impending changes for which your child feels scared or unprepared.

If you notice any of these things in kids who have always been impulsive, made previous suicide attempts or threats, or seem vulnerable in any way, you really should get consultation from a mental health professional.

The 24/7 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: is 1-800-273-8255.  Put it in your phone. We hope you never need it for yourself or for anyone else, but we hope you have it if you do.  Our social workers are always here to support our families ~ please never hesitate to make inquiry if we can be of use to you.

 

Advertisements

JOINT JOURNALING: A powerful communication tool between parent and child

As parents, we strive to help our children understand who they are & what they believe in. We want our children to understand and recognize their feelings, to be able to calm themselves when they’re upset, and to have the coping skills to overcome struggles. We need to help them grow into their authentic selves feeling loved and accepted.  Self-awareness exercises like the one I’m describing today, can help kiddos come to know themselves better.

A fun and useful exercise between parent and child is to pass a journal back and forth nightly.  Pre-teens and Teens really seem to do well with this concept.  My own daughter and I do this and I’ve learned so much about her sweet little 12-year-old soul.  I believe talking and journaling are not mutually exclusive – but they are mutually beneficial!!  Journaling has become a tool in our toolbox to be sure there is an open door communication policy and in helping my daughter come to “know” herself better.

img_1010

If you choose to employ a journal, you’ll find you communicate a little differently when you write, because you have time to think.  It’s also quite possible that the child will “hear” you better when you write.  And, you might notice that she’ll be braver when she writes.  Sometimes writing and reading gives you just enough distance… to be totally honest!

This exercise can be especially important when children have difficult topics, memories or feelings they are struggling with. Remain aware that your questions can bring up strong feelings/memories for foster/adoptive children.   Remain aware that addressing these strong feelings in writing gives you ample time to process and formulate your best response.

When kiddos reach middle school, it’s becomes very typical for them to communicate through writing.  They don’t call each other, they text!! It’s exciting to see how your journal paves the way for your child to talk to you as they do their friends.

Mutually, you will find meaning in this exercise and will come to appreciate the time capsule you are constructing.  Everything, from what you’re writing about, to her handwriting and the expressions she uses, captures her in this moment.  Your journal pages can be more powerful than a photograph.

You’ll need to decide a couple of key things: 

Who is allowed to see this journal? For trust to be built, you both must honor this decision.  The journal is just between my daughter and myself in our house.

How will you pass the journal back and forth?  We leave it under each others pillow on most nights. 

When can you expect a response?  Sometimes life gets in the way and we just let each other know that we weren’t able to get our entry done.  We leave a sticky note that says “Response needed ASAP” if it’s urgent. 

Do you want to use a fancy journal or just use a standard notebook?  Either works great; although the blank journal or spiral notebook allows for more flexibility and the ability to come up with your own questions/topics.  We’ve used all three, including a wonderful journal called Just Between Us: A no-stress, no-rules journal for girls and their moms.  You can find it HERE.

What to write?  It’s up to you!  There are no rules for this activity.  Of course, you should do what feels right for you!  Some days you might feel like there’s nothing to say.  Don’t be afraid to doodle or share an inspiring quote instead. Consider using the below list of questions as journaling prompts.  As you get started, it might feel more comfortable to stick to the more “superficial” of these topics.

  • What are your strengths?
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • What are your goals for this school year?
  • Who do you talk to when you have a problem? How do they help?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • What are you worried about?
  • What do you wish you parents knew about you? What do you wish your friends or classmates knew about you?
  • If you could have one wish, what would it be?
  • What do you feel ashamed of?
  • Where do you feel safest?
  • If you weren’t afraid, what would you do?
  • Have you ever felt like a failure? How did you cope?
    How can you tell that you’re getting angry?  What does your body feel like?
  • What’s something that adults say to you that’s really stuck with you? Do you think their right?
  • What do you do when people don’t seem to like you?
  • What is your proudest accomplishment?
  • What things feel “in” your control? What things feel “out” of your control?
  • What do you like about your school? What do you dislike?
  • What do you do when you’re stressed out?
  • What’s something nice you can say about yourself?
  • What’s your happiest memory?
  • What do you do when you’re feeling down? Do you think it’s okay to cry?  Do you think it’s ok to yell?
  • What is your favorite book, movie, band, food, color, animal?
  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What do you like talking about? What do you find it hard to talk about?
  • What are three things you might like to be when you grow up?
  • Who are your best friends? What do you look for in a friend?  What are challenges you face in friendship?
  • Before you fall asleep, what do you think about? What do you dream about?  What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up?
  • Have you ever let fear stop you from doing something you wanted to do?
  • How are you and I the same? How are you and I different?
  • What do you need to know about crushes and dating?
  • What are things you’d love for us to do together?
  • If you could do one crazy thing without consequences, what would it be?
  • What do you love about school? What do you not love about school?  How do you feel about your grades?  What has your greatest learning experience been?
  • How do you feel about the activities you’re involved in? What takes up too much of your time?  What do you wish you could spend your time doing?
  • These are Compliments I want to give you… What compliments would you like to give me?
  • What have you learned from our journal?

 img_1011

In the event that you know journaling is NOT your thing, these questions have a lot of value as talking points too.  Talking with your children is one of the most critical steps of healthy parenting. Speaking honestly and clearly, responding calmly, and listening carefully will occur only if children are provided with models and opportunities to practice. Kids need to learn to share more than just their belongings…

~Stacy Dinkel, M.A.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Developmental Ages and Stages in Adoption

Ry, flyMost of the time, adopted youth are not pondering their adoption nor the complexities it brings to their lives. Like any other children, they are busy with school, friends, sports, and other activities. But the adoption community has come to realize that there are definitely developmental stages as well as milestones and events that often trigger adoption related issues.

There’s no need to rewrite an exceptional resource & this article describes how adoption can impact development in great detail:  Child Welfare Information Gateway.  This resource can help you to better understand special adoption-related developmental concerns. The article looks at issues of separation, loss, grief, anger and identity as the child grows. It looks at what to expect at different ages, including the emotional impact of adoption.


We find that children’s interest in adoption varies throughout the developmental stages of childhood and adolescence. As children progress from one stage to another, they look at adoption differently and, often, have more concerns or questions.  Parents can facilitate this developmental process by being knowledgeable and supportive, and by continuing to retell their child his or her adoption story.

Use age-appropriate language.
Help your child remember the people who were in his or her life before coming to your home.
Help your child remember the places where he or she has lived.
Speak positively about birth family members and prior caretakers.

Even if you have educated yourself about normal child development and behavior at different ages, as your child matures you are sure to find yourself questioning any of your child’s behavior that seems out of the ordinary. An adoptive family has the added concern of trying to decide whether or not it is an adoption issue that is troubling the child, or not. Of course, the adoption community has found that the following milestones and events can trigger challenges and bring up powerful emotions:

• Birthdays of the adopted child, siblings, parents, or birth parents
• Anniversaries of placement into foster care, an orphanage, or the adoptive family; or the date of adoption finalization
• Holidays (especially Mother’s and Father’s Days, but any holiday that involves family gatherings, such as Christmas, Passover, or Thanksgiving)
• School projects in which a child is asked to talk about his/her family, such as “family tree” assignments or identifying inherited family traits
• A doctor’s visit in which an adopted person is asked to supply medical history information
• Adopted mother’s pregnancy, birth of a child, or adoption of a sibling, which may upset the adopted child’s sense of security in a family
• Puberty
• Unplanned contacts from the birth family
• Divorce of adopted parents
• Deployment of a military family member
• Death of a family member

Remain aware of milestones and events that may trigger a need for postadoption support.  During these times, parents should watch for signs indicating that their adopted child, or they themselves, need a little more help. Overt signs might include changes in mood, eating habits, or sleeping habits. Parents should let their children know that they understand what is happening and will be there to help and find other resources as needed.

Please contact your social worker at Chrysalis House, Inc. if you find your loved ones needing further advice or referrals.

 

Pinterest & Adoption

 

images

As you likely know, Pinterest is a social bookmarking website for saving, organizing and sharing things. Many, many people have already recognized its benefits for design, fashion, beauty, cooking and other lifestyle topics. But, it can have some wonderful benefits for couples and singles who are hoping to adopt ~ or in the middle of that process, too.

We have been building our agency Pinterest page for a long while now.  And, we’ve proudly amassed a wealth of resources.  In fact, our Pinterest boards have made it hard to keep this “blog” alive — We’ve come to notice that so much important content has already been written and it’s written so well, that, well… why would CHI write it again?

Please accept our invitation visit and “follow” our Pinterest page: Chrysalis House.  You will then have access to a resource that we have designed to support any and every family, including those who are -or- aren’t clients of our adoption agency.

IMG_5404

We have reviewed a wide collection of topics and amassed over 800 pins all nicely divided into boards on adoption and issue specific topics such as:  anger management, special needs, chores, developmental milestones, safety strategies, foster/domestic/inter-country adoption, bonding and attachment, nutrition, discipline, transracial adoption and …probably just about everything in between, too.  We’ve created boards on: what to do while you are waiting (prospective adoptive parents), how to coach adoptive relatives, how to apply for adoption grants and even how to get ready for back-to-school.

Our Pinterest boards are there for you and they. are. free.  Please access our Pinterest pages whenever it can be of use to you.  Simply put, that’s why it’s there.  And, if you see a topic that we’ve missed, we hope you’ll make a recommendation for us to research it too!  (Just email it to stacy@chrysalishouse.com & she’ll humbly accept that challenge!)

But, there’s another reason why we bring up Pinterest…  This social platform can be part of any waiting parent’s adoption networking strategy. It’s popular and has many millions of visitors ~ which is a fantastic audience.  68 percent of Pinterest visitors are women and 70.9% are between the ages of 17 to 44– which includes the demographic you want to reach and connect with, when you are prospective adoptive parents seeking a domestic adoption.  According to a report, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined and is now one of the top 10 social networking websites.

How waiting adoptive parents can use Pinterest:

It’s easy to use and once you’ve joined, sharing, following and “liking” others couldn’t be easier. Just create a board and start pinning.  Conveying “who” you are with words can be a challenge.  Pinterest helps you show the “real” you when it comes to telling an authentic story.  Because Pinterest reveals “who” you are through photos and images that you personally identify with, it gives you the chance to connect with prospective birth parents on a visceral level.

For waiting parents, beyond research on “what you can expect while you’re expecting” –you can also use Pinterest to showcase your personality and share many bits and pieces of your life that didn’t make it into your profile.  Your Pinterest page can show additional facets to your family like: hobbies, traveling plans, your love for the garden, recipes you’d like to try, charities you support, and can ultimately reflect …how you hope to parent that child that you hope to adopt.  Consider loading your families Adoptive Profile to your Pinterest page and consider Pinterest to be another resource for connection(s).  Finally, for anyone who is going through the sometimes arduous (but eventually rewarding) process that is adoption, Pinterest’s beauty, messages of hope, and celebration of the everyday can be a daily pick-me-up.

Now, isn’t that (P)interesting?  (wink.)

 

 

Social Networking 101: For the Adoptive Family

 

Teen-with-Cell-phone

Young Female Using Smart Phone

Social networking continues to raise pressing questions for those touched by adoption. Electronic communications have invited complexities and issues that challenge even the best-prepared members of the adoption circle. Today, adoptive parents must simply anticipate and plan for the likelihood of digital contact with birth family members!

Most adoptees have a natural curiosity about their birth families and with the rising number of social networking sites it can simply be easier to find people. Even if a child does not have his or her own cell phone or computer, these devices are readily accessible via friends, at schools and public libraries. A child curious about adoption is free to explore in new and private, unsupervised ways. The child’s developmental maturity, temperament, mental health, learning style, and family circumstances all affect how the electronic contact impacts the child.

Just as any extended family relationship may face a painful disconnect, there can be intense emotional repercussions when the child is in touch with birth family members without the adoptive parents’ knowledge, input, and supervision. In these cases, there may be no safety net to help the child handle confusing, overwhelming feelings or in making careful choices about boundaries, emotional expectations and demands.

Adoptive parents can be hurt too when learning about electronic contact after the fact. They may experience fear, uncertainty, anger or betrayal as well as excitement, curiosity and hopefulness. Even when adoptive parents know about the contact beforehand, they may worry about information being more than the child is emotionally prepared to process.

With the goal of thoughtful support, adoptive parents should aim to learn how to talk with their child about adoption in general ~ and eventually about the potential for electronic contact with birth family members. Proactive thinking about these matters puts parents in a better position to engage in the child’s electronic communications. Parents can let their child know, for example, that they will occasionally monitor e-mails, Facebook messages, and cell phone records and will discuss concerns directly with the child. Adoptive parents must have their radar up for signs that their child is in contact with biological family members, especially in adoptions of children who were abused or neglected by their birth families and where there are court orders barring contact.

Begin the adoption with explicit boundaries about what kinds of contact the birth family and adoptive parents will have with each other, which adoptive and birth family members will participate in the contact, and how frequently contact will occur.

Adoptive parents should be fully transparent about adoption with their child, using age-appropriate language that honors the child’s biological family. They should tell their child the true adoption story from the beginning, including the positives, reasons for the adoption and the birth family’s challenges. Social workers can help parents practice how to tell difficult truths in words the child can understand and yet, convey compassion and respect for the birth parents. Clearly, children of all ages who have open, honest, straightforward communication with their adoptive parents are in a better position to use their parents as emotional allies when adoption issues emerge.

Parents need to keep their finger on each child’s social networking pulse. Please talk to your children and ground their self- worth on real family relationships, not fake online social interactions. Since kids are more knowledgeable with technology than their parents, many parents give up trying to keep up because they don’t know how to monitor online behavior. NEVER Give Up!

We’ve done some research and have amassed the below list of sites, that all parents should be aware of:

Facebook: Is a social networking site where it’s common to broadcast the ins and outs of our days on Facebook walls.

  • Potential concerns for the adoptive family:
    • Birth family finding the child
    • Child finding the birth family
    • Birth family finding your facebook profile
    • Bullying/inappropriate information
  • Make sure to check your privacy settings!
    • Facebook often changes the way that privacy works, so you must stay up to date regarding the information shared.
    • We recommend that you share information only with your “friends” and make sure that you actually know those friends.
    • Monitor your “other” folder for private messages. Simply access your messenger from a computer (not phone) and note at the top where it says “Other.” Facebook monitors messages it considers to have high probability of being spam and places them in this “Other” folder. Messages from people who are not Friends, will go here.

 Twitter: is a Microblogging site that allows users to post brief, 140-character messages — called “tweets” — and follow other users’ activities.

 Why it’s popular: Teens like using it to share quick tidbits about their lives with friends. It’s also great for keeping up with what’s going on in the world — breaking news, celebrity gossip, etc.

What parents need to know

  • Public tweets are the norm for teens. Though you can choose to keep your tweets private, most teens report having public accounts.
  • Talk to your kids about what they post and how a post can spread far and fast.
  • Updates appear immediately. Even though you can remove tweets, your followers can still read what you wrote until it’s gone. This can get kids in trouble if they say something in the heat of the moment.
  • It’s a promotional tool for celebs. Twitter reels teens in with behind-the-scenes access to celebrities’ lives, adding a whole new dimension to celebrity worship.

 Snapchat: is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear.

Why it’s popular: Snapchat’s creators intended the app’s fleeting images to be a way for teens to share fun, light moments without the risk of having them go public. And that’s what most teens use it for: sending goofy or embarrassing photos to one another.  “Snaps” also seem to send and load much faster than email or text.

What parents need to know

  • Many schools have yet to block itwhich is one reason why teens like it so much
  • It’s a myth that Snapchats go away forever. Data is data: Whenever an image is sent, it never truly goes away. (For example, the person on the receiving end can take a screenshot of the image before it disappears.) Snaps can be recovered, even though users are unaware.
  • It can make sexting seem OK.The seemingly risk-free messaging might encourage users to share pictures containing inappropriate content.

Tumblr: Is like a cross between a blog and Twitter: It’s a streaming scrapbook of text, photos and/or videos and audio clips. Users create and follow short blogs, or “tumblelogs,” that can be seen by anyone online (if made public).

Why it’s popular: Many teens have tumblrs for personal use — sharing photos, videos, musings and things they find funny with their friends. Tumblelogs with funny memes and gifs often go viral online, as well.

What parents need to know

  • Porn is easy to find.This online hangout is hip and creative but sometimes raunchy. Pornographic images and videos, depictions of violence, self-harm, drug use and offensive language are easily searchable.
  • Privacy can be guarded, but only through an awkward workaroundThe first profile a member creates is public and viewable by anyone on the Internet. Members who desire full privacy have to create a second profile, which they’re able to password protect.
  • Posts are often copied and sharedReblogging on tumblr is similar to re-tweeting: A post that’s reblogged from one tumblelog then appears on another. Many teens like — and in fact, want — their posts reblogged. But do you really want your kids’ words and photos on someone else’s page?

Vine: is a social media app that lets users post and watch looping six-second video clips. This Twitter-owned service has developed a unique community of people who post videos that are often creative and funny — and sometimes thought-provoking.

Why it’s popular: Videos run the gamut from stop-motion clips of puzzles doing and undoing themselves to six-second skits showing how a teen wakes up on a school day vs. a day during summer. Teens usually use Vine to create and share silly videos of themselves and/or their friends and family.

What parents need to know

  • It’s full of inappropriate videos.In three minutes of random searching, we came across a clip full of full-frontal male nudity, a woman in a fishnet shirt with her breasts exposed, and people blowing marijuana smoke into each other’s mouths. There’s a lot of funny, clever expression on Vine, but much of it isn’t appropriate for kids.
  • There are significant privacy concerns. The videos you post, the accounts you follow, and the comments you make on videos are all public by default. But you can adjust your settings to protect your posts; only followers will see them, and you have to approve new followers.
  • Parents can be star performers (without knowing).If your teens film you being goofy or silly, you may want to talk about whether they plan to share it.

KIK Messenger: is an app-based alternative to standard texting that kids use for social networking.

Why it’s popular: It’s fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you just use the basic features, making it decidedly more fun in many ways than SMS texting.

What parents need to know

  • It’s too easy to “copy all.”Kik’s ability to link to other Kik-enabled apps within itself is a way to drive “app adoption” (purchases) from its users for developers. The app also encourages new registrants to invite everyone in their phone’s address book to join Kik, since users can only message those who also have the app.
  • There’s some stranger danger.An app named OinkText, linked to Kik, allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with.
  • It uses real names.Teens’ usernames identify them on Kik, so they shouldn’t use their full real name as their username.

Following are the most pressing concerns we see for any child, whether adopted or not, in having access to social networking sites:

  • Peer pressure
  • Self-esteem challenges – feeling dejected and worthless, because they constantly compare themselves to their online friends
  • Location Services sharing personal information
  • Online predators
  • Pornography & Sexting
  • Having access to content your child may not be emotionally ready for: Drug/alcohol use, Pornography, etc.
  • Social networking sites create a platform for cyberbullying.

This agency strongly supports parents taking an active and proactive stance on educating children about what an appropriate electronic presence looks like, what can go wrong and how to protect themselves. We strongly advise developing a cell phone contract. Cell phone contracts can be a great way for parents to help their child learn how to manage their new freedoms and should be customized to fit your family and child. A cell phone contract is:

  • An agreement between parents and child regarding expectations for responsible phone use
  • Sets expectations ahead of time regarding appropriate behavior and use of the phone
  • Describes consequences for not following the agreed-upon expectations
  • Some children will need stricter rules
  • Ideally, the contract should feel “fair” to both parents and child
  • The contract should be age appropriate; rules will change as the child gets older and gains more trust and responsibility

Location services is a standard feature on most smartphones—it allows you to share your location with others. Other apps (such as facebook, instagram, or twitter) may include information about your location when you post anything to those sites. Be aware of location services and whether or not you are comfortable allowing your child to use that feature on their smartphone. Don’t forget to set restrictions so your child can’t make changes

  • Location services can be especially concerning if you or your child are posting from your home location. You (and they) may be unaware that you are disclosing your location by posting a status or picture.
  • There are apps that allow people to search for others based on how close you are to them. Predators are aware of what to look for and how to trick kids into disclosing other information—make sure they are appropriately wary of strangers, even on social media.
  • The iphone allows you to give each app permission to use your location if you do not want to disable location services altogether
  • Android phones require users to check each app to see if it uses your location

Pornography: With the prevalence of smartphones, kids have more opportunity to stumble upon inappropriate content. Smartphones should be fixed so that normal web browsers are disabled and kid-safe browsers are downloaded in order to prohibit access to porn. This includes all ipods/ipads/androids/kindles that have internet access. Almost 50% of kids age 10-17 report viewing pornography in the last year, but 66% viewed it on accident.

It’s best to have conversations before your child has stumbled upon pornography, which is happening at younger and younger ages (age 9 or 10, currently). Prepare your child for the time that they witness something inappropriate, and let them know how you want them to deal with that moment when it comes. If your child has already witnessed pornography, it’s important to have a conversation without increasing shame and blame. You’ll want to normalize the incident, while making your concerns and expectations clear

Sex Trafficking

  • Children from foster care are more susceptible to being recruited, tricked and/or forced into being sexually exploited and abused.
  • Sex Trafficing is becoming a more recognized problem, especially relevant for teenage runaways.
  • Ways that kids are recruited:
    • Seduction and coercion
    • Parents selling children
    • Kidnapping
    • False advertising for “modeling” “acting” or “dancing”
    • Peer recruitment
    • Internet trolling (pimps look for girls on instagram, facebook, or other social media sites)

Ways to keep your child safe

  • Be aware of who they are talking to online. If you notice a change in your child’s behavior or temperament, initiate conversation and stay connected.
  • Talk with your child about online safety and the ways that kids get tricked or recruited. The information you give them could help them make a good decision for themselves.
  • Let them know that if they make a mistake, you’ll still be there for them. Coming clean about a mistake might be what keeps them safe in the long run. They need to hear this directly and explicitly, ahead of time.
  • Be wary or concerned about anyone who increases conflict or distance between you and your child. These are common ways that children are taken in by predators.

If your adopted child is not yet active on social networking sites, but you are a parent who is… there are also guidelines for you:

  • Remember that you cannot post pictures of your child until your adoption is finalized
  • Check your privacy settings, i.e. who can see your posts/pictures/location
  • Be aware that Birth Parents/Relatives may find you or your child through social media
  • Talk with your friends/family about social media safety regarding your child
  • Create a separate, unique e-mail address for communication with a birth parent. Agree to use this instead of social networking sites so there is more privacy and so adoptive and birth parents can exercise some sort of oversight over electronic communication that may involve children.
  • If using social networking sites, engage the greatest privacy settings to avoid disseminating confidential material about the child or that expands the possibility of others initiating contact.
  • Be cautious about accepting friend requests on social networking sites, as these requests can open a Pandora’s box of relationships.

While the pace of technology requires us to be ever-vigilant about new online threats, the ultimate solution is to have a great relationship of trust with our children. Frequent, heartfelt and nonjudgmental conversations are the best vehicles for protecting your loved ones. Though sometimes difficult and time- consuming, there is no better solution to keep a family safe and intact.