With (ISC)² being a supporter of U.S. National Cyber Security Awareness Month every year since its inception, it strikes me that many more organizations are getting involved this year – maybe more than ever before. I asked myself what’s changed. Then, I realized I don’t care – I’m just glad that our society is shining a spotlight on helping vulnerable groups – especially children – understand the lasting consequences of their actions online – for themselves and for other people.
As recent as last week, we were told of the heartbreaking suicide of a young girl in British Columbia as a result of relentless taunting by her peers over a long period of time. Much of this bullying took place online. I could hardly read the story. Unfortunately, she’s not alone. There are countless, horrific examples of kids taking extreme actions because they feel ostracized and victimized and believe that they have nowhere to turn.
October is also National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying has been around for a long time. Today, the vehicles to carry it out are just different. What scares me is that the Internet and mobile devices make it so easy to bully anonymously and to gang up on one child that it is almost becoming socially acceptable. In my day, it was easier to pick out who the cowards were because they couldn’t hide behind a computer. It was easier to stand up to them, too.
As a parent and grandfather, I’m encouraged to see law enforcement agencies, state and federal governments and companies pull together during National Cyber Security Awareness Month to do our most basic civic duty – create responsible digital citizens. It is up to us to empower children and their educators and caregivers to be aware of the consequences of bullying and to speak out against it so it becomes embarrassing and socially UNACCEPTABLE.
I would also like to see us make the pursuit of responsible digital citizenship year-round and lifelong. It’s up to us to guide our children so that when they’re faced with obvious or hidden dangers, they make the right choices. The Month is a good start. Now let’s keep it going EVERY month…
I want to extend a hearty thank you to the hundreds of (ISC)² Safe and Secure Online volunteers around the world who are sharing their time and expertise with children and educators during NCSAM and every month. Thank you for having a positive impact on children’s online choices and behavior. YOU ARE MAKING A TRUE DIFFERENCE! If you haven’t already signed up, join today. You won’t regret the time you spend in classrooms and the looks you see on the kids’ faces as they discuss what they see and do online. Schools can request a free presentation anytime. Go to www.isc2cares.org to find out how.