Online child encounters – is it time to hit the panic button?

Posted in Cyberbullying and Online Safety by ginas876 on April 19, 2010

As more children and teens are reported as being involved in dangerous encounters with adults they meet online comes news that Facebook’ is refusing to add a child safety button on their site.

The button, according to The Times article, “Police attack Facebook in dispute over child safety”, enables users to report concerns instantly to police or charities while online. Known as the Child Exploitation and Online Protection button (CEOP), it’s already been added to Bebo and MSN sites.

Facebook says there have been no instances where children have been lured into a dangerous situation because of their site and their reporting mechanism provides enough protection. But surely, it wouldn’t hurt to add a button to see if it makes a difference?

It may have prevented the abuse of a child like Alicia Kozakiewicz , who at 13 talked to her online friend everyday. Little did she know that this friend was actually a 38-year-old man. Scott W. Tyree lured Alicia to a meeting spot where he then picked her up in his car and drove her to his home where he tortured and sexually assaulted her for 4 days.  She was rescued and over the years has become a powerful advocate for online safety campaigns.

The Canadians have taken a different approach. They’ve asked kids to come up with their own public service announcement to teach others about online safety. What better way to teach kids about the dangers of cyberspace than to give them the power to contribute to a solution? Sponsored by Microsoft, these short videos were created by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada as part of the CanTech Digital Arts Contest.

Just like the public service announcements created by kids in Canada, the child safety button on Facebook is really about giving the power back to the user – in this case kids. And there can’t be any harm in that.


O’Neill, S. (2010), ‘Police attack Facebook in dispute over child safety’, The Times. Accessed at

Park, M. (2010) ‘Internet horror tale teaches lesson in safety: State girl, 13, agreed to meet acquaintance only to be assaulted.’ Accessed at