Definitions of terms
While one should always advise caution when relying on Wikipedia for facts, the following Wikipedia pages do offer excellent summaries of the following online issues:
Social networking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking
Instant messaging: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_messaging
Second Life: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_life
Internet suicide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_suicide
Chat shorthand & internet vocabulary
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
IWF's remit is to minimise the availability of potentially illegal internet content--specifically, images of child sexual abuse hosted anywhere in the world; criminally obscene content and incitement to racial hatred content.
Software which will help you stay in control
Microsoft's advice on filtering software, monitoring systems, anti-virus and firewall software
Get it Sorted: Advice from Childnet International
Staying safe online - general resources for children & teenagers
Think You Know: Loads of information on internet safety and safe surfing for young people--including mobiles, blogging and gaming sites.
Own Your Space: Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online, a book for teens by Linda McCarthy (Addison Wesley, 2006)
Faux Paw Meets the First Lady: Keeping Children Safe Online , a book & DVD for children by Jacalyn Leavitt & Sally Linford (John Wiley & Sons, 2006)
Staying safe online - resources for adults
Internet Safety Family Guide , a book by Victoria Roddel (Lulu.com, 2006)
Staying Safe In A Wired World: A Parents Guide To Internet Safety, a book by Rob Nickel
Enough is Enough: an extensive website dedicated to making the internet safer for children and families, and to help protect children from threats they should never face.
Think You Know: Information on internet safety and safe surfing for young people--including mobiles, blogging and gaming sites.
Tips on how to keep your child safe online: from Garlik, the online identity company https://www.garlik.com/index1.php?page=kidsatrisk
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre: tackles child sex abuse, providing internet safety advice for parents and carers and delivering a virtual police station for reporting abuse on the internet.
Wired Safety: the world's largest Internet safety and help group
Microsoft's guidance on a wide variety of topics http://help.uk.msn.com/safetyandsecurity/youngpeople/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4107360
Blog Safety: A Childnet leaflet for parents, carers and teachers
How to deal with cyberbullying
Stop Cyberbullying: a programme of the Wired Safety Group, with sections for young people, parents & teachers
Stop Text Bully: aimed at young people, about all types of cyberbullying
Stop Text Bully : top 10 tips poster
Cyber Bullying: Bullying in the Digital Age , a book by Robin Kowalski, Susan Limber & Patti Agatston (Blackwell Publishing, 2007)
Cyberbullying: Safe to Learn. Embedding anti-bullying work in schools. Guidelines from the Department of Children, Schools and Families
'Cyberbullying: A Whole-School Community Issue'. Guidelines from the Department of Children, Schools and Families
Safety in chatrooms
How to keep safe in chat, from Childnet International
Instant Message & Chatroom Safety Tips, from ProtectKids.com
Safety in video networking
I Tube, We Tube... They All Scream for YouTube! from Wired Safety
Safety on social networks
Myspace: Safe Online Networking for Your Kids: a book by Larry Magid & Anne Collier (Prentice Hall, 2006)
Parry Aftab's Guide to Keeping Your Kids Safe Online: from Wired Safety Group http://www.wiredsafety.org/resources/pdf/socialnetworktips.pdf
Tips on how to stay safe & protect your reputation on social networking sites: from Garlik https://www.garlik.com/index1.php?page=social
Mashable: All the latest news on all the social networks
How can I protect myself against Cybercrime? From Garlik
Phishing: Cutting the Identity Theft Line , a book by Rachael Lininger & Russell Dean Vines (John Wiley & Sons, 2005)
Caught in the Net: How to Recognize the Signs of Internet Addiction--and a Winning Strategy for Recovery, a book by Kimberly Young (John Wiley & Sons, 1998)
(Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Freaks and Those Who Love Them, a book by David Greenfield (New Harbinger Publications, 1999)
Real Solutions for Overcoming Internet Addictions , a book by Stephen Watters (Vine Books, 2001)
The Center for Internet Addiction Recovery: a resource for the assessment and treatment of internet addiction disorders
The dangers of pornography to young people
Protectkids.com, the Internet safety site of Enough.org
Befrienders Worldwide : The warning signs of suicide http://www.befrienders.org/support/index.asp?PageURL=warningSigns.php
Gamcare: young people and gambling addiction
0845 6000 133
Anna & Matt
Anna is a 14-year-old in your church youth group. One day she comes to you and says that, while round at Matt's house (also 14, also in the group), she saw some pornography on his computer. She asked him about it; initially he denied it, but then he became defensive and shrugged it off--and has been avoiding her ever since.
What does the Bible or Christian tradition say about pornography?
To what extent do you think popular culture has 'normalised' pornography, including for teenagers (with magazines like Nuts and shows like Friends )? How can we help young people to make sense of the gap between what they hear in church and what they see in 'normal life'?
What issues do you think this situation will raise for Anna?
What support will Anna need, and how might you help her get it?
What are the key issues here for Matt?
What action, if any, might you take with Matt?
If you speak to Matt, how do you handle the fact that he will know it can only have been Anna who told you?
Do you speak to Matt's parents?
Would you act differently if the sex of the young people were reversed?
What teaching or actions, if any, will you take with the youth group, both to deal with this current issue and also to help when it next arises?
Dave is a paid Christian youthworker; he runs various drop-ins for both churched and unchurched young people. One of his volunteer helpers is a 27-year-old Christian called Suzy. All her emails are automatically appended with the address of her MySpace profile, which is public. You click on it to take a look, and find that an old friend of hers from uni has been reminiscing on her wall about the things they used to get up to--including doing Ecstasy in clubs.
What does your understanding of the Bible or Christian tradition suggest to you about drug-taking?
In your opinion, do you think this revelation about Suzy affects her suitability or credibility as a youthwork volunteer?
Would the situation be any different if Suzy was a paid worker?
Would the situation be any different if Suzy wasn't a Christian?
Should Dave talk to Suzy about this, or should he just ignore it?
Does Dave have any right to require Suzy to take any actions, such as protecting her profile or changing her standard email signature?
Do you think there would be a difference in Dave's reaction, or what he should do, if Suzy's profile was private?
What steps might Dave take to avoid this sort of situation in future, when recruiting and training volunteers?
Dave asks Suzy about the writing on the wall, but Suzy laughs it off and says sure, she did some stuff at uni--"doesn't everyone?"--but that she hasn't touched any drugs for five years. What do you think Dave's reaction to her comments should be?
Suzy becomes very defensive, saying she can't vet what other people are going to write on her wall. She suggests that, since she gives her time for free, she shouldn't have to act like an employee: what she has on her MySpace is up to her. She seems to be about to 'take her bat and ball home', and Dave can't really afford to lose volunteers. In his position, what would you say or do?
One of the unchurched teenagers at the drop-in unfortunately overhears Dave's brief conversation with Suzy, and thinks it's really cool that Suzy 'takes drugs'. He heads off to shout gleefully to all the other teenagers present that it's OK to do drugs because 'even the Christians do it'. In Dave's position, how would you handle this?
Vicky & Chris
Vicky and Chris, both church-going 15-year-olds, are in a relationship which is looked on fondly by the church. They are popular with both their peers and adults in the church, and both families are well-regarded. One day, a parent from church tells you that their 13-year-old daughter, Rachel, has encountered Chris' online profile and seen nude and sexualised photos of Vicky there. Friends of Chris from school have posted lascivious comments about these pictures, egging him on and asking for more photos. It appears that the couple's relationship has gone far beyond what anyone had imagined. Rachel is feeling shocked, upset and confused, and her parents are angry.
What issues does this raise, pastorally and theologically, for you as a leader? And for the young people, for the church and for the families?
Pastorally, how do you respond to Rachel and her family? What do you say to them about what might happen next?
Do you approach Vicky and Chris and, if so, what do you say/do? What biblical or theological support will you offer for the stance you take?
How will you help Vicky and Chris to understand what impact they may have on other (particularly younger) people? Is it fair, and is it biblical, to expect young people to be role models for one another?
Do you approach the couple's parents, and what do you say/do? If you do, what biblical support will you offer for your intervention? What support, if any, do you think it would be appropriate to offer the families?
How will you respond if both sets of parents tell you that not only did they know about, but had accepted, a sexual relationship between Vicky and Chris (for example, in supporting birth control measures) ?
What actions, if any, will you take with the youth group, and how will this affect your teaching programme for the future?
To what extent might your actions and reactions differ if Vicky and Chris were about to turn 18?
Steven, a 16-year-old in your church Bible-study group, has been seen around town when he should be at school. You stop to speak to him, but he is uncharacteristically surly and won't tell you why. Concerned, you contact his parents. They are extremely upset: Steven is in serious trouble at school. He's been excluded, initially for two weeks, pending investigations and decisions about the cyberbullying of classmate Michael, who has Asperger's Syndrome. It seems that Steven, the apparent ringleader of a group of about six teenagers, has been using the school computers to create photo simulations of Michael in pornographic and other compromising situations, including mocked-up newspaper front pages with cruel headlines. Steven and his friends have circulated these pictures by email around the school, and other teenagers have printed them off to pass around, pin up on noticeboards, and to stuff into Michael's schoolbag. The school tracked the pictures back to Steven by checking recent network traffic.
What theological and pastoral issues does this situation raise?
Steven is a member of your church; Michael isn't. To what extent does this affect your reaction to the situation?
How would you see yourself working with others (for example, the school) to resolve this situation?
What support do you recommend putting in place for Steven's parents?
How might your feelings of anger and disappointment towards Steven affect your relationship with him?
Given that Steven has not spoken directly to you about his situation, what approach, if any, might you make towards him?
What support might you extend to Steven and his family? How would you feel about accompanying them to meetings with the school?
If Steven is willing to talk to you, which biblical principles might you want to discuss with him?
What courses of action might you discuss or decide upon with Steven?
What longer-term support might you be able to offer Steven in order than he can learn from, and move on from, this mistake that he has made?
How might you work with the youth group to prevent this kind of thing from happening again?
During a youth social in church, Claire is found to be in a very distressed state in the toilets. You're called over to help and it eventually all comes out: Claire is completely hooked on eBay. Although she's only 16, she's managed to set up a PayPal account which gets paid through a bank account (which her parents set up but which now only Claire uses, and into which her monthly allowance of £30 is paid). Claire's monthly expenditure on eBay is around £400, on fashion and cosmetic items and gifts for friends. Claire won't say how she's funding the difference between her income and her spending, but since she doesn't have a job, you have a strong suspicion that she may be stealing. You remember that things have gone missing at the youth group and at church over the last few months. She says her parents have no idea, especially because she does her buying late at night when they think she's asleep. She either hides what she's bought or says she got it in a charity shop. She knows she's in a mess and out of control, but she just can't break her eBay habit.
1. What does the Bible or Christian tradition say about addiction?
2. What is your response to Claire?
3. To what extent should your response be simply pastoral, and to what extent spiritual?
4. Do you confront Claire about the possibility that she may be stealing and, if so, how?
5. Do you speak to Claire's parents and, if so, do you involve Claire?
6. What support might you suggest for Claire and her parents in the short-term, and who else could be involved in this?
7. What options might you offer Claire and her parents as possible courses of action from now on?
8. How will you respond to Claire's needs in the medium- to long-term? What support structures can be put in place?
9. What, if any, teaching or activity programmes could you offer to the youth group to help others who face the same temptations?