HYANNIS – Children’s Cove, the Cape and Islands Child Advocacy Center, has launched a digital campaign called IU2U, which stands for, “It’s Up to You.” The campaign aims to increase awareness of online sexual exploitation among youth and parents/caregivers.
IU2U is comprised of several components including, a live “Virtual Block Party,” teen testimonial videos, and The Pledge, which youth make to agree to engage safely online and to let someone know if they need help.
Children’s Cove works in partnership with local law enforcement, the Department of Children and Families and the District Attorney’s Office to achieve a comprehensive and coordinated response to cases of online and commercial sexual exploitation of children on the Cape and Islands.
The IU2U campaign is designed to take immediate steps to equip youth and parents/caregivers with vital insight, practical information, and tools to combat the insidious incidence of online sexual exploitation, which has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Virtual Block Party will be a live, one-hour event at the end of April to align with National Child Abuse Prevention Month/National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Social influencer Jonathan Thompson of JT Chronicles will emcee and Children’s Cove will introduce the issue of online sexual exploitation and explain why it’s important to understand. Tips will be offered on how to identify and block online threats and have a Q&A for the audience. Lastly, participants will learn about The Pledge. With this pledge a youth makes promises regarding their online safety and actions, such as, “I pledge to tell a trusted adult if a stranger, or even someone I know, asks me to do something inappropriate online, such as send nudes,” and “I agree to never physically meet a stranger I met online,” and “to be aware of the signs of online grooming behavior.”
Teen testimonial videos will feature local teens sharing first- and second-hand stories of being targeted by an online predator. They will detail fallout from the incident, fears they have and practices they now implement to steer clear of predators. The short videos will be shared on the Children’s Cove Facebook and Instagram platforms.
For more information and other general online safety tips, visit the Children’s Cove website.