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The Same Old Song Without The Dance

In Children on March 21, 2010 at 03:10

Self-defense instruction meets The Dangers of the Internet

One of the truly important things we have done at El HaLev is to create a nationally-recognized course for training self-defense instructors. The course consists of  instruction in sport-related anatomy, physiology, psychology and class planning and then, practical training from the most experienced instructors in El HaLev (including yours truly) in the art of teaching self-defense skills . All of the young women currently taking the course have a strong background in the martial arts, which will help them learn, apply and adapt the physical skills we teach. However, they understand, and we drill it in as much as humanly possible, that physical techniques are not the be-all-and-end-all of teaching self-defense— not by a long shot.

This past Wednesday, the trial of Avinoam Breverman got underway. Breverman  is accused of the rape, sodomy, and sexual assault of three girls he met on the Internet, ages 11, 13, and 14. Brevermen admits having conversations with the girls, but denies he had sexual contact with them. At his trial, even Brevermen’s lawyer stated that he is worried about what happens on the Internet: “Besides the offenses attributed to my client, which will be clarified during the trial, I am concerned and appalled at the level and content of conversations among  minors. We are talking about sexually-explicit expressions and coarse language used even by children aged 11 to 14.”

Now you can just imagine what a fire storm about the Dangers of The Internet this case has caused. And yet, I am fairly certain that not one of our self-defense instructor candidates was or has ever been approached by her Sensei and taught how to handle herself on the Internet, and certainly not how to teach others  effective Internet strategies in a way that will strengthen rather than frighten them. However, this is one of the many things self-defense instructors here and everywhere must learn, and most often, teach themselves.

When I address this issue with our SD instructor candidates, I plan to give them each a copy of the article below, in the original Hebrew of course, because, in the end, I think the most important thing for them to know about staying safe on the Internet is that it is not all that different from staying safe anywhere. It’s the same old song without the dance: being aware of the tactics criminals use, trusting your intuition, being assertive, getting out of there, telling someone what happened, and continuing to tell until someone offers your help. As for your trophy-winning martial arts form and your  fancy spinning jump kick, you can save them for more appropriate occasions.

Protect children – Not just online

The arrest of a suspect in the sexual assault of young girls again raises concern about the dangers online. But it is important to remember that the children are in danger everywhere and that we can protect them – even without violating their privacy

Ilana Brodo

Y-Net, Feb. 2, 2010

Yesterday (Monday) two things happened that reminded us all, including me, of the precarious situation of children in the “Wild West” that is the Internet.

While in Tel-Aviv, a man was arrested on suspicion of using the Internet to access and attack many young girls, in Jerusalem the Economic Committee held a special meeting with the youth participation concerning ways to protect children online, in which, among the proposals were the expected government censorship, software for filtering sites and of course talk, talk, talk.

Whether a special curriculum, or even subsidized courses for parents, there seem to be plenty of ideas. But according to reports, the exploitation of tender young girls at the hands of criminals seems inevitable. The question is, why?

Maybe there are some important points that the current approach of educating children to use the Web wisely is missing. Maybe we forgot a few essential things.

Dangers Are Everywhere

The Internet is not the only place where your child is in danger. Also in the street, at school, while crossing the road, spending time with friends or a school trip- countless dangers, including those same  evil people, threaten your child at any time.
So why does the Internet seem to be such a focus of pedophile activity? The answer is simple – on the global network, you can choose how old you want to be and how you choose to introduce yourself. Even photos and videos can be quite easily faked, if you are wondering when the mask is removed and the predator is detected.

The Internet is a place where it is easy to create connections, make friends and talk with complete strangers about just about anything. On the other hand, there is no shortage of places where a child can meet a pedophile, whether at the home of a private teacher, the parent of a friend or a guard at the mall near school. The Internet cannot be held responsible.

If that is so, then the tips are the same tips and the information is the same information: do not take candy from strangers and don’t meet up with people you don’t know. The Internet is a medium. Although it is too successful a medium for these stalkers, t in the end, the Internet is merely a means.

The other thing many forget is that we used to be children. We worried parents were once children- curious, innocent and perhaps even vulnerable. It is important to look at  this issue first, from the perspective of a child, and then from that of the pedophile, despite the difficulty of doing so.

The Inner Child

There is no doubt that when we were children, as our personalities began to crystallize, we also needed personal space in which to operate and a degree of privacy. We did not want our parents reading our diaries we preferred a degree of independence in deciding for ourselves. It’s easy to forget, but your child thinks the same way so, that you did.

No force in the universe can stop a 14 year-old from acquiring pornographic material, and these materials were always available – whether in print, video or, today, digitally.

As it is for pedophilia, so here, the Internet is only the medium, the means whose face has changed with the progress of technology and society. Sites of any kind, like restricting the sale of pornographic magazines to18 year-olds and older: ways to bypass the restrictions were found in the past, and will be found in the future.

Many Internet guides for protecting children encourage parents to install technology to restrict access to sites with child-appropriate content, to regularly look into the child’s affairs and even to remove the PC from the child’s room.

Wouldn’t this kind of intrusion into the child’s privacy force him to find alternatives? Infringement of a child’s privacy, given that his information on the computer is indeed for him a personal thing, would be interpreted as an attack. For this reason, intruding into his or her computer should be reserved only for cases in which you suspect your child is in real danger.

So if you shouldn’t pry, what can parents do to keep their child safe from the schemes of evil people on the Internet?

Know The Enemy

Before you try to understand the online lives of your children, it is at least worthwhile to learn the difference between a browser and a torrent program. We did a little bit of detective work and checked out the pages of our children on their social networks. These pages are open to everyone, so it is worthwhile for you to know what information your progeny are publishing there.

For example, it happened to reach my ears that the father of a 13 year-old daughter forbade her to put her picture on her Facebook profile. As an alternative, the young teen chose a photograph of a model wearing a revealing swimsuit. As a result, the indecent proposals that she received in her private messages and on her Wall appeared in worrying numbers.

Some guides also advise parents to supervise their kids whenever they are online. The age at which you can give a child privacy on the computer, in my humble opinion, is no different than the age at which they can cross the street or to go out with friends without supervision. On the Internet, similar to other life situations that can, at time, be dangerous, what will determine the outcome, in the end, is the use of discretion.

It is important to explain to your child the dangers of the Net. Without a doubt, it is better to inform him of the existence of bad people than to have him find out for himself – perhaps in a chat room intended for children only.
More than “explaining”, however, it is important to listen. Take an interest  in the sites your children surf as much as you do in their experiences on school breaks or at their cousins’ house this weekend. Share with them interesting sites that are appropriate for them, and ask them for recommendations.

At the end of the day, protecting your child on the Internet is the same as protecting him/her elsewhere. The difference determines the outcome, in most cases, is not content filtering or the location of the computer, but that same use of discretion and critical thinking that parents must help their children acquire, rather than aggressively guarding them for as long as they will put up with it.

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