For police services

Resource Goals for Police Services

Cybersafety is important for everyone, but teens are particularly vulnerable to online threats due to their frequent internet use and social media activity. This resource aims to equip police services with essential cybersafety knowledge to help teens protect their personal information, navigate the internet safely, and recognize and avoid online dangers.

  • Rethinking Common Cybersafety Advice
  • Recognizing Cyberbullying
  • Scam Delivery Vehicles
  • How Teens Can Stay Safe Online
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Check Out our Downloadable Checklist Resource!

This checklist highlights the key points for police services to cover when instructing teens about online safety, covering the main points of this resource page. Download and use this checklist as a resource for effective cybersafety education.

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Why It’s Misleading: Simply using a strong password is not enough if it is reused across multiple sites.

Better Practice: Use a password manager to create and store unique, complex passwords for each account. This way, you don’t have to remember multiple strong passwords. Change passwords only if there is evidence of a breach or suspected compromise and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for additional security.

Why It’s Misleading: Teens often share personal information without realizing it, through photos, posts, or even location tags.

Better Practice: Personal information spans a lot more than teens might normally think, so make sure to clarify what exactly personal information is. How it can encompass first & last name, school, grade, etc.) Educate on setting privacy settings, recognizing the risks of oversharing, and the importance of protecting personal information.

Why It’s Misleading: Social media is a significant part of teen life and cutting it off is impractical.

Better Practice: Teach safe social media practices, such as setting privacy controls, vetting friend requests or messages, and being cautious about what is shared online.

Why It’s Misleading: Scammers can pose as close friends or family members, so seeing a name you recognize is not enough to mean it’s safe to accept the request.

Better Practice: Before accepting friend requests, verify the identity of the person through additional means such as mutual friends, shared interests, or by contacting them directly through a trusted channel (e.g., phone call or known email address).

Why It’s Misleading: If images of oneself are shared consensually to another person, is not necessarily illegal. Depending on where you live, the laws about intimate images may differ. However, teens are often very afraid to speak up and ask for help. If something does happen online and they were sharing images, they do not want to get in trouble.

Better Practice: Teenagers should feel empowered to seek help if someone violates their trust by sharing intimate images without consent. Encourage teens to exercise caution in online interactions, disengage from individuals making them uncomfortable with sexual messages or requests, and report such incidents to a trusted adult or authority figure promptly if they are comfortable doing so. Provide teens with proper reporting resources. (See Below)

*It is also crucial to note that if a teen does have their intimate images released online, it will be okay and there is help. Teens should know that there is life after images are shared, and that it is not as big of a deal as it might feel. Also, if they choose to report, local police and victim services can get teens support with having the images removed.

Why It’s Misleading: Yes we want teens to think before they post, about what they’re sharing. However, it is also important for them to actively use privacy settings.

Better Practice: Regularly review and adjust privacy settings on all your social media accounts and apps. Limit who can see your posts, personal information, and photos.

Why It’s Misleading: Deleting comments does not address the underlying issue of cyberbullying and may not prevent further harassment.

Better Practice: Take screenshots of the bullying and seek help from a trusted adult or counselor. Report and block the bully on the platform where the harassment occurred. Make sure to share resources with the teens about who they can reach out to. (See Below)

Why It’s Misleading: Teens will use social media no matter what, and many want to become influencers, gain online fame and possibly make money off of it. Telling them not to, will not be effective.

Better Practice: Instruct them to be selective about what you share online. Think twice before posting personal details, location information, or photos that could be misused. Make sure they understand, if they do gain followers, what is their plan for dealing with followers? They need to know how to block and report when they’re using any sites or apps.

Why It’s Misleading: Sharing passwords can lead to your accounts being compromised or misused if not done securely.

Better Practice: Keep your passwords confidential and never share them with anyone without taking precautions. Use a shared family password manager to securely store and manage passwords, and avoid sharing passwords via email or text.

Why It’s Misleading: Even though AI-generated images are not real photos of the person, they can still feel very violated. It can be just as upsetting, and mentally distressing as having someone’s real images shared.

Better Practice: Teens should have mental and physical support if this happens to them, and they can reach out to a trusted adult or reporting authority to get help taking the images down.

*It is also crucial to note that if a teen does have their intimate images released online, it will be okay and there is help. Teens should know that there is life after images are shared, and that it is not as big of a deal as it might feel. Also, if they choose to report, local police and victim services can get teens support with having the images removed.

Recognizing Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

Cyberbullying and online harassment are serious issues that can have significant emotional and psychological impacts on teens. Understanding how to recognize and respond to these forms of abuse is crucial for maintaining a safe and healthy online environment. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help teens identify and deal with cyberbullying and online harassment.

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  • Harassing Messages: Repeatedly sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages.
  • Spreading Rumors: Sharing false or malicious information about someone to damage their reputation.
  • Doxxing: Publicly revealing private information about someone without their consent.
  • Impersonation: Creating fake profiles or hacking into someone’s account to post harmful content.
  • Exclusion: Deliberately excluding someone from an online group or activity to hurt their feelings.
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  • Threats: Sending messages that threaten physical harm or violence.
  • Stalking: Repeatedly contacting someone or following their activities online in a way that causes fear or distress.
  • Sexual Harassment: Sending unsolicited and inappropriate sexual messages or images.
  • Hate Speech: Using offensive language targeting someone’s race, gender, sexuality, religion, or other personal characteristics.
  1. Don’t Engage: Avoid engaging with the bully or harasser. Responding can sometimes escalate the situation.
  2. Document Everything: Keep a record of all messages, posts, or interactions that are harmful. Take screenshots if necessary.
  3. Report the Behavior: Use the reporting tools provided by social media platforms or websites to report bullying or harassment.
  4. Block the Harasser: Block the person who is bullying or harassing you to prevent further contact.
  5. Tell Someone: Talk to a trusted adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school counselor, about what is happening.
  6. Seek Professional Help: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider talking to a mental health professional for support.

Looking for signs of cyberbullying in your peers can be helpful to identify if someone needs help. Some common indicators include:

  • Emotional Distress: Sudden changes in mood, anxiety, or depression after using digital devices.
  • Avoidance: Reluctance to go to school or participate in social activities, avoiding certain apps or platforms.
  • Changes in Behavior: Unusual withdrawal from family and friends, or changes in sleeping and eating habits.
  • Academic Performance: A sudden decline in school performance or loss of interest in schoolwork.
  • Unexplained Injuries: In severe cases, physical signs of self-harm or injuries as a response to online abuse.

If you know someone who is being cyberbullied or harassed:

  • Be There: Offer your support and let them know they are not alone.
  • Encourage Action: Encourage them to take the steps listed above to address the situation.
  • Stand Up: If you feel safe doing so, speak out against bullying behavior when you see it. Sometimes, knowing that others disapprove can deter bullies.
  • Share Resources: Give them the opportunity to continue support if they choose, by providing resources like connecting with a counsellor, trusted adult(s), or police services.

Scam Delivery Vehicles

Phishing: Fraudulent communications that appear to come from reputable sources, typically via email, to steal sensitive data and/or deliver malware onto your device.

Teen-Targeted Examples:

  • Fake Game Login: An email that looks like it’s from a popular online game, asking you to log in to claim a reward. The link leads to a fake login page that captures your credentials.
  • Streaming Service Scam: An email claiming there’s an issue with your streaming service subscription, asking you to click a link to update your payment information.
  • Scholarship Offer: An email that seems to come from a scholarship program, asking for your personal information to apply. The link provided leads to a phishing site designed to steal your details.
  • Contest Winner: An email or social media message claiming you’ve won a contest you never entered, asking you to click a link to claim your prize.

Definition: Uses phone calls to trick individuals into disclosing personal information, or sending money. Scammers often pose as representatives from banks, government agencies, or other trusted organizations.

Warning Signs: Unexpected calls requesting personal information, urgent or threatening language, requests for payment or sensitive data over the phone.

Example: Someone calls the student saying they’ve been selected for a study abroad program and they need to send a deposit to secure their spot.

Definition: Similar to phishing but conducted through SMS text messages. These messages may prompt recipients to click on malicious links or provide personal information.

Warning Signs: Messages from unknown numbers, links that require personal information, urgent requests or threats.

Example: A scammer sends a text that says the teen has an unpaid parking ticket, and they can pay it using the link provided to steal their money.

Definition: Phishing within online gaming platforms, where scammers use game chats, messaging features, or in-game emails to send deceptive messages. These often mimic legitimate game communications and may offer fake rewards, cheats, or threaten account closure.

Example: A teen receives a message that if they go to the provided link, they can get 500 in-game coins to spend if they fill out a survey.

Signs of Scams:

  • Requests for login details or personal information.
  • Offers for free items, upgrades or in-game currency.
  • Messages that create a sense of urgency or fear.

Definition: Phishing scams conducted via online chat services, including social media messengers, direct messages, and chat features on various websites. Scammers can impersonate friends, family, or reputable entities, sending messages with fraudulent offers, links to malicious sites, or requests for personal information.

Examples: Receiving a message from a “friend” asking for financial help.

Signs of Scams:

  • Unexpected messages from known contacts asking for sensitive information.
  • Links that redirect to any websites.
  • Offers or requests that seem unusual or out of character for the sender.

How To Stay Safe Online: Teen Edition

Online safety is crucial for teens who are active on social media, gaming platforms, and other digital spaces. This guide will help you avoid scams and protect yourself from cyberbullying and online harassment. Use the 4-Point Safety Shield to stay safe and secure online.

Guarding your personal information is essential for maintaining online privacy. Avoid sharing personal details such as your full name, address, phone number, or financial information on the internet. Regularly check and adjust your privacy settings on social media platforms to control who can see your information. Always think before you share anything online, considering who might see your posts and what information they reveal.

To enhance your online security, always verify the identity of anyone asking for personal information. Use strong and unique passwords for each of your accounts and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for an extra layer of protection. Stay updated by keeping your software, apps, and devices up to date to protect against vulnerabilities.

Adopting a skeptical mindset can help you avoid online threats. Question unexpected requests, especially those asking for personal information or money, and recognize red flags like offers that seem too good to be true or pressure tactics. Be cautious with links and attachments from unknown sources, and consult a trusted adult if you’re unsure about a request or message.

Stay informed about scams, cyberbullying, and online harassment to protect yourself and others. Encourage safe online practices by sharing tips with friends and building confidence in your ability to recognize and avoid scams and cyberbullying. If you encounter scams or harassment, report them to the platform and inform your parents or guardians.

3 Overall Online Safety Tipes

1) Manage Your Online Security Effectively

Use a password manager to create and store unique, complex passwords for each account. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for additional security. Verify the identity of anyone asking for personal information and stay updated by keeping your software, apps, and devices up to date.

2) Be Smart About Sharing Personal Information

Educate yourself on setting privacy settings, the risks of oversharing, and the importance of protecting information. Understand that personal information can be shared unintentionally through photos, posts, or location tags. Regularly review and adjust privacy settings on social media. Be selective about what you share online.

3) Engage Safely with Social Media and Online Interactions

Embrace social media by practicing safe online habits. Before accepting friend requests, verify the identity of the person by connecting with mutual friends or by contacting them directly through a trusted channel. Feel empowered to seek help if someone violates your trust. Report and block bullies or harassers on the platform, save evidence of the bullying, and seek support from trusted adults or counselors.

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Additional Resources & Education

Key Takeaways:

Police services should prioritize educating teens on recognizing and mitigating online risks such as cyberbullying, harassment, and scams. Emphasize the importance of early detection and swift action in responding to cyber threats. Encourage teens to utilize privacy settings, be cautious with personal information sharing, and seek help from trusted adults or authorities when facing online dangers. By equipping teens with these essential skills, police services play a crucial role in fostering a safer online environment for youth.

Resource Recap Message:

This resource equips police services with essential knowledge to educate teens on protecting personal information, identifying online dangers, and engaging safely online. By understanding risks, identifying cyberbullying, avoiding scams, responding effectively to threats, and using social media safely, teens can enhance their online safety and well-being. We know this is important for them to learn, so being equipped with the right knowledge, language and tools will help get this message across successfully.