Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Helmet Analogy: Online safety and Child Sex Abuse Prevention

“The real enemy of safety is not non-compliance but non-thinking”
-Dr Rob Long

As I walk through the streets of Jerusalem I am constantly seeing people on bicycles.

I see young children riding and I see older adults riding.

I see people riding new bikes and I see people riding bikes that are quite old and worn.

I see people riding for fun and people riding because they need to get somewhere.

That’s all well and good.

What bothers me is that I see people riding without a helmet.

What bothers me even more is when I see someone with a helmet on top of their head and they don’t even bother clasping it below their chin (to securely fasten it).

The helmet is a perfect analogy for other safety provisions that one needs to have in place. There are those people who refuse to put in these needed provisions (e.g. those who don’t wear a helmet) and there are those who do so little, that while they believe they are protected, if something were to actually occur, it will quickly be obvious that they are not protected (e.g. an unsecured helmet will not protect the head during any type of fall/accident).

The two specific areas where I constantly see parents making the “helmet mistake” are in the areas of child sex abuse prevention and online safety.

There are some parents who believe that there is no need to speak to their children about these topics. That everything will be ok without any intervention.

That’s akin to riding a bicycle on a major roadway without a helmet, only more risky.

Then there are other parents, they spoke with their child once about the subject and thus they’ve “covered it”. Others put the onus onto the schools or teachers to teach these things.


That’s a helmet without it being securely fastened.

You are giving yourself the impression that you are protecting your child, but the chances of them being protected is extremely low.

You are the one who needs to speak with your child about child sex abuse prevention. You need to do it thoroughly and once is by no means enough.

Then there is online safety, an area where parents need to take a more active role.

Don’t be one of those parents who think the app is smarter than your child. Children keep finding new ways to get around filters and restrictions on their phones/computers. Plus, social media gives them a way to share their tricks/hacks with other kids in a very short period of time.

A recent Business Insider article (which I found here on Yahoo) discusses how children have found numerous ways to outsmart the newest iPhone controls, and how Apple has yet to fix these known issues.

This is not an article from an overly emotional mother discussing some no-name app someone told her about.

This is an article from a respected publication discussing how one of the most valuable companies in the world is being outsmarted by kids, and the company hasn’t found the fix yet.

Don’t expect them to find a permanent fix, as kids will figure out how to beat the next fix.

Thus the only real solution is being a more active parent. Meaning that you yourself are monitoring the phone and its usage.

Know your children’s passwords. Check their browsing and social media history/activity. Check which apps they have on their phone (and learn about decoy-apps) to see if they have something which isn’t appropriate.

Don’t be afraid to now and then have a peek at their emails and SMS.

Online predators and cyber bullies cause tremendous destruction to the lives of children and young adults around the globe.

If you plan on allowing your child to venture online, make sure they are properly supervised, and that means by you.

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more.

To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at

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