Last Updated on March 31, 2020 5:02 pm
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today shared resources to help caretakers keep children and teenagers safe online as North Carolinians stay home to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We should all stay home right now to help reduce the spread of this virus,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “But staying home and transitioning to online education means that young people are spending more hours online. I know parents are concerned about the dangers online, and I hope this information will give them steps and resources they can use to keep their kids safe.”
The one-page guide, developed in partnership with Shield North Carolina, North Carolina Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and other human trafficking service providers, identifies steps families can take to improve online safety, including reviewing and strengthening privacy settings and discussing standards for good online behavior. View the guide here.
James Ford, a member of the North Carolina State Board of Education, emphasized the importance of young people staying safe during the pandemic.
“Now more than ever digital citizenship is critical for students and parents,” Mr. Ford said. “Being safe, scrutinizing sources, and understanding that the internet can be dangerous at times are all important. I thank Attorney General Stein for taking this initiative at this critical time.”
North Carolinians should also be on the lookout for changes in behavior that might indicate that young people are victims of abuse. The SAFE Child Act, which Attorney General Stein drafted and championed and became law in November 2019, requires adults to report suspected child abuse to local law enforcement, regardless of the abuser’s relationship to the child. The law also prohibits high-risk sex offenders, such as sexually violent predators, from contacting anyone under the age of 16 using social media or social networking sites, gathering information about anyone under the age of 16, and violating social media platform policies. You can report concerns to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline – www.cybertipline.org or 1-800-843-5678.
Additionally, parents should be watchful of changes in behavior that indicate mental health-related issues. While stay-at-home orders are critical to fighting the pandemic, health professionals have warned that social distancing and isolation can also exacerbate mental health issues, including depression and suicidal thoughts. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-8255.
In addition to this information, Attorney General Stein is also creating additional content to help educate children who are home from school. He will be reading children’s stories during Story Time with Stein and sharing lessons about civics and government during Civics with Stein. You can follow @JoshSteinNC on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest.