May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month - Canada recognizes this month is a time to raise awareness about the devastating impact of sexual assault and focus on the measures being taken to stop violence and support survivors. All month long, we will be sharing resources on our social media platforms to bring awareness in our community, and help support those who have been impacted. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up all month long!
It's National Volunteer Week and we would like to thank all of our incredible volunteers for all the work they do for Thrive! Even in these uncertain times, they continue to stand by and support our agency.
Thank you for all the incredible work you do!
Homebound: How to Keep Kids Safe Online
An Article from Culture Reframed: Building Resilience & Resistence to Hypersexualized Media & Porn (https://www.culturereframed.org/)
You are on our minds. We hope that you have drawn your loved ones near and that you’re weathering this unprecedented health crisis.
With workplaces shuttered and schools closed for an indeterminate period, many of us are sheltering at home. It’s no surprise that screens will become a central pastime. Young people, especially, will miss their friends, may feel anxious, and will be seeking entertainment and distraction. Young people are especially vulnerable to porn, which is available for free 24/7 via smartphones and on teen platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. We want to make sure you have the tools and tips for keeping your kids safe.
One of the simplest ways to take stock of which conversations we need to have with our kids about online safety is to ask when, where, what, why, and how? Culture Reframed recommends these 5 ways to keep your kids safe on social media:
WHEN? Check in with your child regarding time limits. With kids faced with spending weeks at home, how long is reasonable to spend online? What agreements do you have in place to ensure that the whole day isn’t wasted, and for prioritizing more productive or creative activities?
WHERE? Do you know where your kids are going online? Have you discussed safe and unsafe spaces to hang out online? If all their friends are on TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, or gaming platforms, are they (and you!) aware of the safety issues of these platforms? Online platforms can be an easy pathway to access porn, or for porn themes to be normalized. Begin or revisit conversations that help kids reflect on their social media use. We offer conversation scripts for download in our Programs for Parents.
WHAT? Have you brainstormed with your kids what to do if they see or are involved in something online that’s unsafe, unhelpful, or worse still, illegal? With social isolation the focus, it might be tempting for teens to “get sexy” online or fall prey to predatory behaviors. This is an important time to revisit conversations about the illegal and risky elements of sexting. Sexting & the Online Digital Footprint (see the Program for Parents of Teens/Module 7) provides helpful guidance for these conversations.
WHY? Are your kids clear about why pornography is so problematic for their sexual, emotional, mental, social, and relational health and development? The more knowledge you have, the more clearly you will be able to articulate to your young person why pornography is harmful and help them build skills for making safe decisions. Every element of Culture Reframed’s Programs for Parents is designed to build confidence in parents and caregivers to brave these essential conversations.
HOW? With guidelines established, how will you check in with your child’s online world? Ask them to take you on a tour of some of their day’s interactions; maintain open communication; and make sure they know that you’re there for them, even when they make a mistake or find themselves in a less than ideal situation.
We recommend that you use the Social Media & Mobile Phone Contract to set or reestablish these safety boundaries—developing an open and honest relationship with your child about their online activities is crucial. Prioritizing reasonable boundaries will mean they are more likely to safely enjoy their time online. They may not always get it right (in fact, we anticipate that they won’t!), so make a commitment, together with your child, to flexibility and learning together. We also highly recommend installing apps and filters as a protective measure (check out Common Sense Media’s helpful tips). No matter how you do it, the highest priority is to help your kids think and respond critically to the pornified culture that surrounds them.
IMPORTANT ALERT – for Clients and Community Partners
RE: COVID-19 Business Continuity Planning
UPDATED: June 10th, 2020
As stated in the Thrive vision, “We believe thriving children create thriving communities”, so it goes without saying that community is at the heart of everything we do. This extends beyond our staff, and clients and Hamilton community, to include the entire global population. Our community will be forever changed as a result of the COVID-19 emergency and the impacts it has had on our families, our work, and our city. At Thrive, we have remained responsive and have taken steps at each interval to protect the health and safety of clients and staff. We closed our offices, but have found, and continue to find, new and innovative ways to deliver modified services that allow our operations to continue wherever possible. Trying times such as this also provide incredible opportunities for learning. Our next steps into this new future will be guided with new learnings and different ways of working to provide the best services and create a stronger Hamilton community that Thrives.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. This virus will continue in our community for many months to come. As we begin to look ahead, we are establishing our own plan, one aligned with our government and public health partners, that outlines our steps to ensure the safety of all, as we gradually restart in this new landscape. We are beginning to prepare our office space to be able to accept clients where virtual options are not available, that keep both staff and clients healthy and safe.
We will continue to update the Thrive website regularly with our plan, which will likely change as the COVID-19 emergency evolves. Our plan is based on what we currently know of the COVID-19 virus and its behaviour. Thus, our plan may change and evolve as more information becomes available. Staff are available and working from home, and can be reached by email should you require any support – contact information can be located on our webpage at www.thrivechildandyouth.ca/contact. Please be advised that all voicemails will be checked daily and responded to within 24 business hours.
In case of an emergency, or a serious concern regarding any child or youth, please contact any of the phone numbers listed below where you can reach someone who will assist you:
Some important telephone numbers you may require during this time:
- Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST): (905) 972-8338
- Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton (CAS): (905) 522-1121
- Catholic Children’s Aid Society (CCAS): (905) 525-2012
- CAS and CCAS emergency after hours’ line: (905) 5228053
- Kids Help Phone, a Canadian charitable organization that provides 24/7 free confidential professional online and telephone counselling and volunteer-led, text-based support in English and French to youth up to age 20 across Canada
- Call 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868
- Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
- Visit the City of Hamilton webpage for more information about Closures & Cancellations Due to COVID-19 - https://www.hamilton.ca/alert/98886
- For more information from Public Health Hamilton on the steps beign taken to protect the Health and safety of our community, please visit - https://www.hamilton.ca/node/95791
Stay safe and healthy.
Stephanie Taylor and the Board of Directors at Thrive
HIPC hosted the annual Service Provider Day for front line staff, on the topic of mental health, on February 21 at City Lab. Mental health is a complex topic to address. HIPC partnered with experts from City of Hamilton Public Health, Thrive Child and Youth Trauma Services, and Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST), to introduce resources available in the community, and discuss pathways to care. Following the presentations, attendees had an opportunity to network, share current programs and consider next steps for collaboration to keep the learning going.