I am throwing down the gauntlet, challenging other cybersecurity professionals around the world to educate their community on digital safety. The youth and parents in your neighborhood need guidance, education, and to know they are not alone. Security professionals can make a profound difference.
The digital revolution has changed our world and with it the risks. The role and expectations of parents has grown as well, but many children and parents are simply not prepared. To keep young adults safe and yet set to be competitive as they mature in the digital domain, parents must become aware of the environments, risks, and resources to help them face the challenges.
Folsom is a small California town, but with big heart and is rich in technology savvy. Many large tech companies, including Intel, comprise the local population. Its Police force is equally modern and does not limit itself to only response duties. It has taken a proactive stance and reaches out to youth and parents to help them with digital safety education.
Sergeant Andrew Bates, from the Folsom Police Department, is part of the digital task force and since 2010 has been reaching out to educate his community. Sergeant Bates, willing to talk to any social group about digital risks, believes the middle-school students and parents are best served. Children are at an age where they are blossoming socially and leveraging technology heavily to explore and connect with others. Parents tend to fall behind in what online social tools and activities are popular. This creates a gap which can lead to serious trouble. Sergeant Bates, a father himself, speaks to parents and students about the risk, expectations, and emphasizes how sometimes things can go terribly wrong. With a history of digital forensics and working local cases, he brings the insights of real events in the community and how they are ever present, even in Folsom.
Recently, I was honored to speak at a local middle-school, with Sergeant Bates, to parents who had concerns, were looking for guidance, and a little hope. Many felt ignorant of this new world their children are involved with, some overwhelmed by the challenges and risks. Talking with them was outstanding. The looks of worry changed to that of purpose and the beginnings of confidence. Understanding the risks, decisions, practical measures they can take, and resources they can leverage rounded out the discussion. They walked away with more information, ideas, and a stronger sense of teamwork amongst themselves.
Call to arms. If you are interested and want to help your community, I urge you to reach out to local schools and law enforcement to offer your expertise. It can be as simple as talking to parents at a gathering, writing a short article for a newsletter, or joining-in to an online discussion. Teachers and administrators are also very interested in having a friendly expert who can answer questions and sometimes even help with securing classroom computers. There are a range of possibilities in how volunteers can help.
As security professionals, we not only stand to protect our organizations, but are also an important resource for our communities to bridge the gaps with knowledge and experience. I challenge my peers to take just a few minutes out of their career and help the kids and parents transition safely into the digital world. I guarantee it will be personally rewarding and can have a profound effect on the young adults in your community.
Chime in and share your stories!
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