One of our youth volunteers last night received an email from someone they knew casually. That email conveyed pain in a breakup and the intent to hurt themselves. Luckily, this young volunteer reached out to some of my managers and was able, with their help, to get help for the other student. Relieved, our volunteer was also traumatized. While my young volunteers have a unique role in helping others, this particular young volunteer had not yet been trained in providing support.
Young people are seeing more and more of their peers reaching out for help online. Sometimes they may imply that they are thinking about suicide or other forms of self-harm. Sometimes they imply that they may be planning on hurting others (such as Columbine) and sometimes they just talk about being lost and lone with no where to turn. We have to teach them what to do, where to go for help and how to report these instances when they find them.
Like performing CPR or first aid, all young people (and adults) must know what they have to do to help others and address emergencies online.
The industry leaders and forward thinkers have created extensive report abuse and help resources. Many have specially trained teams of support for users, police and schools. Yet, few young people (or adults) know what to report, where to report it or what to expect when they do.
This year WiredSafety.org is devoting to helping increase abuse reporting awareness and literacy. We will be partnering with other leading help groups to create a "no wrong door" policy, where all of us lead to help.
Want to join us? Have some ideas? Want to help? The kids need us and each other.