The internet can be a vast and often dangerous ocean to navigate, especially for young people and youth leaders.
With youth groups meeting virtually because of the pandemic, youth leaders, and the young people they are ministering to, need to make sure that they are safe.
On Tuesday 23 June, Catholic Youth Parramatta (CYP) hosted an online webinar on “Keeping young people safe online: COVID-19 and beyond” with the Federal Government’s eSafety Commissioner.
“This training is critically important in light of the work we do and how strongly we care about protecting young people and those who minister with them,” James Camden, Director, Catholic Youth Parramatta, said.
“Like physical environments, children, youth, and vulnerable people must be kept safe from harm online,” he said.
The eSafety Commissioner, established in 2015, provides a range of online safety programs and resources for children, parents, seniors as well as young people.
The webinar was hosted for 80 participants from around Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, but was also extended to youth leaders in dioceses around NSW and the country.
During the session, the team from the eSafety Commission discussed the current environment that young people are using technology, factors that increase a young person’s vulnerability online and how to maintain boundaries between leaders and those they minister to.
“These have been extraordinary times. Staying connected online has never been more important as we learn exciting new ways to socialise, work and be entertained. But there are also risks,” James said.
“Online youth groups have been an incredible way to forge ahead in ministry with young people. But it comes with some risks – many of which we can mitigate successfully with careful planning and additional training.”
Joanna Mak from the Parish of Epping and Carlingford in the Diocese of Broken Bay found the webinar “extremely educational and informative.”
“The content was good as it gave me practical takeaways to take back to my own Parish and youth groups.
“The webinar also made me realise how much social media can influence young people are and the different strategies and websites that are available to keep young people safe and supported,” she said.