Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Keeping Children Safe

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Now that kids are back in school, authorities are asking parents to be extra-vigilant about their children’s activities online and via text. Our local Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce reminded residents that “Back to School” also means a spike in Internet crime targeting children and teens.

“Every year when school starts back up and goes back in session, we always see a spike in crimes where children are targeted or children are contacted by individuals,” said ICAC Capt. Rhett McQuiston. “Sometimes they are other kids who are contacting them; a lot of times they are adults who are pretending to be kids.”

I mention this, because Sunday, September 27, is Internet Safety Day - a day set aside for parents to discuss Internet and texting safety with their children. This year, the organizers have a goal of getting 100,000 parents to pledge to talk with their child or teen about staying safe online.

One of the components of the “Whole Child” is safety – as an organization who has been close to several organizations and individuals involved in cases of missing and exploited children or Internet crimes against children, we are all-too-aware of how little information it takes for a predator to strike.

If you are a parent, or know a parent, Sunday is a good time to sit down and talk about safe boundaries online and via text. Talk about what information should not be shared, talk about photos and the impact that sharing a photo with someone – known or unknown – can have. Talk about blogging and “sexting” and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Talk about where to turn if something seems “off” about an online friend or contact. Most importantly, just talk. Be aware of what is happening and what your children and teens are involved in.

Need more resources? You can download a free Internet Safety Parent’s Guide to get you started.

-Sara

Celebrating Those Who Take Action

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I received an e-mail this morning from New Orleans Outreach, one of our partner organizations. The beginning of the message began this way:

“There is an old phrase, ‘Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.’ I suppose it comes from our need to discuss (usually gripe about) problems that we don’t think we can change, that we are powerless to affect.

“For years, for New Orleanians, the ‘weather’ was public education. It was so bad all we could do was gripe and bemoan. No more. Last year, more than 2,000 people decided to change the weather. They came to volunteer in a New Orleans school or they made a donation so that New Orleans Outreach could bring in professionals to enrich students’ education.”

As I read that, it struck me. There have been a lot of people in the past few years talk big about enacting change in the Big Easy, but many of the talk falls empty and the intended actions lie fallow. But not these more than 2,000 people referenced above. They had finally had enough and put their time, and their money, into affecting a major change – one student, one school, one program at a time.

A couple of months ago, I sorted through hours of video footage to compile a short video about the work New Orleans Outreach and their supporters are doing (see the video here). As I was compiling the video, there was an interview with a child who talked about Outreach’s afterschool programs – where he learned to read music and learned his times tables. I was struck that he was able to learn two things, things I learned during my regular school day as a child, only because thousands of people got together and decided to make a change.

Has it revolutionized all of New Orleans? Not yet. But has it revolutionized one child’s life? Absolutely. And there are thousands of kids just like him who face a better future because someone took action.

Another New Orleanian who is taking action and affecting change is Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. When he and his wife Brittany moved to New Orleans several years ago, they vowed to make an impact in their adopted hometown. Rather than talking big and nothing more, they worked to make a real difference. In fact, one of the blogs on NFL.com today gave the “Gridiron Good Guy Award” to Drew Brees for his work in New Orleans, saying,

Three Pro Bowls, comeback player of the year, offensive player of the year, and Walter Payton Man of the Year. Is there anything that Drew Brees CAN’T do!? You might as well add “Superman” to this list. Brees supports Operation Kids and started his own charity, The BreesDream Foundation. The guy was pivotal in helping to rebuild New Orleans. Oh, and how about six touchdown passes in Week 1!

We are proud to have been a part of Drew’s efforts to help revitalize New Orleans through improving educational and athletic opportunities for the city’s children.

It has made me think about the changes I have tried to affect in my life, in my community. Do I sit and complain and fail to take action? Am I merely all talk? What about you? What have you done? Do you lament about the “weather” only to sit back and accept it, or are you the kind of person to get up and get involved?

One of my favorite poets, T.S. Eliot, said,

“It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time – for we are bound by that – but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time.”

I couldn’t illustrate how important education is any better than that. I am confident that the work of New Orleans Outreach is so valuable that they are improving the city of New Orleans, through its youngest residents, every single day Every day they leave the city and its children better than they found them.

It’s why I am so excited that, to help give an added boost to Outreach, Operation Kids is going to double any donations received for their program this week. We too are serious about affecting change – but we need you to be as well. Together, with people like Drew and organizations like New Orleans Outreach, we can do it.

-Sara