How Teens can Stay Safe Using Technology 

By: Dale Roberts, Principal at Centarus 

The internet is full of opportunities for people to learn, have fun, and interact with others. Unfortunately, the internet also brings with it new risks, and these risks particularly endanger teenagers. The resources needed for parents and their teenagers to use the Internet safely are provided in the advice that follows. 

Start with the Hardware 

One of your teen’s most vulnerable online activities should be where your child internet protection strategy should begin because it is right in front of you. Nevertheless, if your kid has their own laptop (or frequently borrows yours), it might get them into a lot of trouble. A laptop that may provide unrestricted access to email accounts, personal information, and even crucial passwords and credit card data might disappear in an instant if left unattended in a public setting. Thus, start with safeguarding your teen’s laptop if you want to improve their cybersecurity. 

Malware, Viruses, and Spyware 

The next most important step is make your teenagers aware of what kinds of cyber attacks they could be targeted by. Here are some of the most common attacks: 

Malware 

All malicious software is collectively referred to as malware. 

Virus 

The virus is a sort of malware that can infiltrate a computer’s operating system covertly and control it to take activities that harm the system or impair its functioning. 

Trojan Horse 

Trojan horses are ostensibly innocent programmes or tools that hackers use to infiltrate your operating system with malware. 

Spyware 

Spyware is harmful software that enables a third party to access your computer’s data without your knowledge. 

Social Media: Online & In Public 

Malware and scams aren’t the only internet hazards, as horrible as they are. Teenagers can now live a significantly larger portion of their life online because to social media. Yet while social media enables kids to stay in touch with friends and family even when they are separated by great distances, many of life’s risks have also followed them online. 

Protect Your Mobile Hardware 

When using mobile phones, tablets, and other devices that could store sensitive data of a similar nature or that could be used to access personal information online, many of the same security precautions you take with your laptops should also be taken. Urge your adolescent to secure all of their devices with passwords and turn on the device location feature. 

ID Theft 

So why is it so dangerous for a teen to disclose their location? There is a clear risk involved with disclosing passwords for online merchant accounts or credit card details. But why would an image that shows someone’s address or an address cause issues? 

Sadly, teenagers are just as prone to identity theft as adults are, and the repercussions for teenagers of someone using their information to apply for a credit card or access other financial resources can be just as serious, if not worse, than the repercussions for an adult. Teenagers don’t typically have a credit history, so having an identity thief damage their credit rating might make it difficult from the beginning to get a good credit history. 

Scams and Online Shopping 

But, online con artists use various methods in addition to identity theft. Internet buying has risks of its own. In the infamous example previously mentioned, a young woman believed she was purchasing an expensive prom dress at a great price only to find out that the dress she received in the mail had nothing in common with the online image. It was of low quality, ill-fitting design, and was not returnable. 

How can Centarus help with Keeping your Teens Safe on the Internet 

Centarus can assist in helping you protect your teens on the internet by first securing all of their devices with the antivirus and firewall services we offer. Our firewall services can also give you the chance to block your teens from viewing any online content that you may not want them seeing. If you need any help or any of these services please get in contact with us here at Centarus today. 

Special thank you to Centarus for writing this blog as a follow up to CORA’s Teens & Tech-Enabled Abuse campaign! Want to learn more about this topic? Check out Cyber Abuse & Teens. 

 

Celebrating Spring at CORA’s Safe Houses

This week, the clients in CORA’s safe houses gathered together to celebrate their yearly Spring Celebration. We often talk about the challenges survivors face (and there are many), so we thought taking a moment to share a happy, fun moment would be a good idea. After all, the process of leaving and healing from domestic violence brings one more in line with joy.

The day started out with Kimi, one of our Client Advocates, leading an intimate, family-bonding exercise that involved families gathering all manner of flowers and creating Spring arrangements. There were so many flowers to choose from! The families placed them in vases, creating a display they felt empowered by. There were tips on how to keep your flowers alive and also a special “potion of love” (ok, it was just water, but the kids loved it) that Kimi handed out for the mothers and children to add together.

Flowers

Priyanka, one of the amazing client advocates, was in charge of the egg hunt. She enlisted the help of Alondra and Zena, two other staff members, with a special mission. They secretly died the eggs and “hide” them throughout the safe house. Each child was surprised with a specifically decorated basket and the hunt was on! Shouts of delight filled the air as children ran around the safe house grounds, yelling with lungs filled with excitement. When they resettled, there were baskets full of bright eggs and a sea of smiling faces.

Alondra, client advocate extraordinaire, decided it was definitely time for a game. And what game do you play at a Spring Celebration? Pin the Tail on the Bunny, of course! Alondra carefully designed and decorated a board (it was too cute!), taped it to the fence and the game began. Patricia, another of our skilled client advocates, gathered the giddy children together and produced the blindfold. One-by-one the kiddos had their eyes covered, lifted the fluffy tail and enthusiastically headed for the bunny. Everyone watched in amazement. The children were so good at this, with minimal to no help!

Next up were the moms. Priyanka held the tiny babies as the moms covered their eyes and tried to do as well as the kids. And they did pretty well … but we couldn’t say the same about the two staff members stepped up to give it a try. Zena, the Emergency Shelter Coordinator, had apparently invented a whole new game: pin the tail on the elevator door. Laughing all the way, surrounded by delighted children, Zena wandered out of the designated game area and was slowly making her way down the walk and out into the world. The children were there though and enjoyed righting her path and sending her in the right direction. Then Patricia took a turn and we all thought staff would redeem themselves … until she walked directly into a wall.

Pin the Tail on the Rabbit

There was so much laughter at that moment. So much happiness. The smiles on the faces of the families said it all. There was joy and there was hope. Domestic violence seemed so far away.

In that moment, the staff even gave each other little looks. A recognition passed between everyone, a reminder of the importance of this work. CORA’s tag line felt real and solid: transforming lives.

But the day wasn’t over. Alysha, who organized the whole event, knew it’s not a celebration until you eat and she was faced with the huge task of feeding everyone. Not to worry. There was beef brisket, hamburgers, all the necessary condiments (including some perfectly saut©ed onions). There was juice, cookies and bright, Spring-themed cupcakes donated by the folks at Cake4Kids.

Now with bellies full of food and spirit filled with cheer, the families began to unwind from the long day. It truly was a celebration … and it was more. It was about empowering personal choice with flowers. It was about finding joy in the unexpected of an egg hunt. It was about trust while pinning the tail on a bunny. It was about community and belonging. It was about hope and transforming lives.

CORA Celebrates International Transgender Day of Visibility

This Friday, March 31st marks the 8th annual celebration of International Transgender Day of Visibility. Rachel Crandall, head of an organization called Transgender Michigan, called for the creation of Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) in 2009 as a response to the lack of holidays celebrating the lives of transgender people while they are living. Prior to TDOV, November’s Transgender Day of Remembrance was the only day specifically dedicated to trans people and communities. While Trans Day of Remembrance is a day of mourning for those killed by transphobic violence, Transgender Day of Visibility is a day to celebrate trans people’s lives, empowerment, and visibility. As Janet Mock, author and activist, remarks:

“It’s a state of emergency for trans women and trans feminine folk of color. … The disproportionate levels of violence trans women of color face pains me, and so does the pervasive framing of trans womanhood being directly linked to images of victimhood and tragedy. It hurts that our names are often amplified only when we are dead, gone, inactive. …We can’t only celebrate trans women of color in memoriam. We must begin uplifting trans women of color, speaking their names and praises, in their lives.”

Transgender people are increasingly visible in media, news, television, and movies. Trans led organizations are leading the fight against poverty, discrimination, and violence through organization’s like the Bay Area’s very own Transgender, Gender-Variant, and Intersex Justice Project (TGI Justice Project), currently headed by Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a black transgender woman and community elder, and Janetta Louise Johnson, an Afro-American trans woman. “TGI Justice Project is a group of transgender, gender variant and intersex people—inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centers—creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom. “

The Bay Area is also home to the Transgender Law Center where the mission is to change “law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.”

At the Trans Youth Leadership Summit, a youth fellow named Caelan Damocles came up with a theme for this year’s TDOV that is in use by an organization called Trans Student Educational Resources. The theme is #TransResistance. “In the increasingly transphobic global political climate, we must use our newfound visibility to mobilize trans people against oppression. Speaking out, taking direct action, and educating others is critical to our safety and wellbeing.”

This TDOV, CORA invites all community members, trans and cis alike to consider what we can do to make this world safer and more just for trans people from the exactly positions we are in. In our homes, families, workplaces, schools, and communities. A place to start is to listen to and read the words of trans people and learn more about the needs and strengths, vulnerabilities and resilience of our trans community members. Here are some places to start, and have a wonderful Transgender Day of Visibility!

We Can’t Let Increased Transgender Visibility Lead to More Vulnerability – Harmony Rodriquez

24 Actions you NEED to Take to Help Trans Women of Color Survive – Lexi Adsit

I am My Sister’s Keeper: Read My Woman’s March on Washington Speech – Janet Mock

Not Born this Way: On Transitioning as a Transwoman Who Has Never Felt ‘Trapped in the Wrong Body’ – Kai Cheng Thom

CORA is dedicated to making sure that trans, gender nonconforming, and non-binary people have access to affirming and respectful services for survivors of partner abuse. CORA is proud to have been one of the first domestic violence organizations in the Bay Area to provide emergency shelter to people of all genders including trans men and women and gender non-conforming people as well as cis men and women. We provide LGBTQ-aware and affirming crisis counseling and mental health services, as well as coordinating with other LGBTQ-serving organizations and groups in the Bay Area. For more information, feel free to contact our LGBTQ Clinical Victim Advocate, Angelynn Hermes at AngelynnH@CORAsupport.org.

Get to Know Rosemary, CORA’s Board Chair

Transforming lives doesn’t just happen. It takes committed, passionate, caring people giving their support and time. People like CORA’s current Board Chair, Rosemary. With a huge heart and a strong leadership, she’s the type of individual that truly is making a difference in the lives of those experiencing domestic violence. We sat down with Rosemary recently to see what drives her.

So, in a nutshell, who is Rosemary?

Right now I’m trying to figure out to mother two toddlers. Katie is a 3 year old, super spunky, and very determined little girl. Christopher is a very sweet 5 year old boy. He is currently obsessed with football and candy. Being a mom is the hardest job I’ve ever had.

When I’m not taking care of my kids, I am a Marriage and Family Therapist. I have a private practice in Redwood City.

How did you first get involved with CORA?

Before starting a family, I was the manager of Client Services at CORA. I helped to ensure CORA provided the highest quality of services to our community.

What personally drives you to help make domestic violence a thing of the past?

I have relatives who survived violent and abusive homes. I know that much of what they struggle with today is a direct consequence of the abuse. Children deserve to live in a safe home and without fear.

When you look at the issue of domestic violence in our society, what aspects do you think need to be addressed first?

One of most important factors to consider and respond to is how inequality contributes to relationship abuse. When one partner is not treated as an equal, he or she becomes an object. We must convince our society to treat others as equals, regardless of their gender, earning power, education level, and ethnicity. When someone is viewed as less powerful, he or she can become an object.

You’ve worked in the domestic violence field before and were actually a staff member here at CORA once. What have you learned through that time that you wish everyone in the community was aware of?

Our clients come from every walk of life. Relationship abuse effects the rich and the poor, the documented and undocumented, men and women, the lower and higher class. No group of people is immune to abuse. By realizing this, I hope others view this problem as a community issue. One that we should all support.

What are your hopes for the cause to end abuse as we move forward?

I’m not convinced that we can ever “end” domestic violence. But, I do believe that we can reduce it significantly. We have made tremendous progress in the last 50 years. Our next step is to reduce domestic violence in other countries. We should promote massive campaigns to prevent domestic violence. We must have hotlines and shelters for survivors who have no refuge or hope.

Is there a quote that really inspires you?

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa

The Year Ahead – A Word from the Executive Director

As we round the bend into 2017 and CORA gets ready to mark 40 years of service to San Mateo County, I can hardly believe how much we have grown. In many ways, last year was our best year ever. Increases in government grants (mostly state funds) and grants from foundations and individual donations, in particular, have made the future bright for CORA and for the thousands of families who turn to us in need.

This year we added several new programs and services. For example, we launched our Children’s Integrative Resiliency Program which provides therapy for child witnesses of domestic violence. That means CORA now offers a truly comprehensive array of specialized mental health services for individuals, groups, families and children. And we can now provide legal advocacy to support clients who have to face their batterers in court.

We also expanded our outreach and services to LGBTQ residents by bolstering our hotline with staff specially skilled in LGBTQ domestic violence and our clinical support for LGBTQ survivors, too.

While we have educated teens in the schools for many years, this year we will be teaming up with Rape Trauma Services to offer a more robust curriculum to keep teens safe and support teen victims of intimate relationship abuse. And, in order to better meet folks where the need is, we will provide community-based support in East Palo Alto where, for a variety of reasons, those who may need help would especially benefit from meeting with an advocate face-to-face in their own neighborhood.

I am inspired time and again by the resilience and courage of survivors. I am also grateful to be able to offer assistance to those who feel hopeless, but who, with our help, realize they are not alone, that abuse is not their fault, and who create new lives for themselves and their children. Because really, once they’ve got the legal support or housing they need, or a warm welcome from someone who really understands what they’ve been through, what we really offer is hope.

After this past election, I believe we need hope, or what some have even called “radical hope.” As the award-winning writer, Junot Diaz said, “Radical hope is our best weapon against despair, even when despair seems justifiable; it makes the survival of the end of your world possible. Only radical hope could have imagined people like us into existence. And I believe that it will help us create a better, more loving future.”

Onward into this very exciting, hopeful year. Together, we’ll transform lives – lives worth living, futures worth embracing.