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Avoiding Strangers, Drugs, and Dangerous Situations Online

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Unlock this lesson to learn more about Avoiding Strangers, Drugs, and Dangerous Situations Online

In this guide, parents & educators will learn:

  • Tricks online predators use to target teens online
  • Red flags teens should be aware of online
  • What to do if teens feel uncomfortable with a situation online

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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Full Event: Avoiding Strangers, Drugs, and Dangerous Situations Online

Parents and Teachers:View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

We live in a digital world and that opens up some amazing opportunities for students. Unfortunately, it also comes with some risks, including the potential of running into strangers, drugs, and dangerous situations online. 

Protecting kids online is top priority for parents and educators. Setting well thought out internet safety rules for kids can help, but kids and teens also need to understand why it is important for them to avoid certain behaviors and interactions online. This guide for parents, students, and educators will help teens learn how to spot red flags online so they can avoid dangerous situations.

Educators and parents: Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

What do online predators not want you to know?

  • Predators are really good at acting like someone you can be friends with
  • You may have already interacted with a predator and not known it
  • Everyone needs affection, belonging, and recognition and predators work to pretend to meet those needs in order to draw their victims in

Online predators have a plan to build trust

  • Predators will try and follow 100 students at a single school and they will go through your entire friend list to add your friends online
  • About 25% of those students will accept the random friend request, because the predator has fake photos that look like a teen who could go to your school
  • Predators do this so you have at least 5-15 friends in common, making it easier to trust them

How do online predators trick students? 

Predators first work on building trust

  • Compliments: They will give compliments to boost your self-esteem, for example, "You're so smart and beautiful."
  • Shared Interests: Predators will claim to have the same interests as you. "I love that band too!"
  • Building Trust: Predators will often start by being friendly and supportive. They might say, "I'm here to listen and help you."
  • Impersonation: Some may pose as someone you already know, like a student at your school or another school down the street, in order to build trust, for example:  "I'm [Name] from your school. And we have a lot of friends in common.”

Once predators build trust they work to make you feel bonded to them

  • Creating Secrecy: They may encourage secrecy, saying, "Let's keep this conversation just between us. Go create a new username or account on _____ app so we can chat there."
  • ~Predators want to have an open line of communication without your friends or parents knowing what that new account is
  • Isolation: Predators might attempt to isolate you from friends and family, saying things like, "They don't understand you like I do."
  • ~This makes you feel like you are getting affection, belonging, and recognition
  • Sympathy and Empathy: They'll pretend to understand your problems and offer sympathy, saying, "I'm here for you, no matter what."
  • Offering Gifts or Favors: Predators may offer gifts or favors online or offline. "I can buy you that game you've been wanting."
  • ~Teens get a rush from free things and this is designed to get your attention and have you look to the predator as a source of getting your needs met
  • Flirting: Predators may engage in online flirting to make the student feel special and desired

Predators escalate and phish for additional information as you get more comfortable with them

  • Requesting Personal Information: They may ask for phone numbers, addresses, or school details
  • Requesting Photos: Predators will often request photos, starting innocently but gradually becoming more explicit
  • Gradual Escalation: They'll progressively steer the conversation toward more personal and inappropriate topics or requests

Once they have what they want, predators will flip on you

  • Manipulating Boundaries: They might push boundaries, saying, "Trust me, it's normal for friends to do this."
  • Emotional Manipulation: They may use guilt or threats to manipulate you. "If you don't do this for me, I'll tell everyone about our conversations and share them with your family and friends."
  • Threats and Blackmail: If you begin to resist or pull away, some predators resort to threats or blackmail, such as sharing private information or photos they've already received

How students can protect themselves from predators

  • Guard Your Privacy: Your personal information is yours; keep it that way
  • Friend Requests Matter: Know who's adding you; not all connections are real
  • Screenshots for Safety: Snap proof if someone's crossing boundaries; share with a trusted adult
  • Block and Report: Don't hold back; use 'block' and 'report' when needed
  • Spot Red Flags: Trust your instincts; and stay skeptical online of anything that seems too good to be true

Avoiding fentanyl and other drugs online

  • Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug used for pain relief by doctors but it is only safe when used under a doctor’s care
  • It’s often used as a filler in drugs sold on Snapchat & other apps (Adderall, Xanax, Oxycodone) and it can be deadly
  • Fake pills often contain fentanyl and are more lethal than ever before

Fake pills can be lethal

  • Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin
  • People who create fake pills sometimes use fentanyl as a filler
  • It takes very little fentanyl to produce a “high” so drug dealers can use less of the other drugs in their pills 
  • This makes it cheaper for them to make fake pills
  • According the DEA, six out of every ten pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose (Source: DEA.gov)
  • That means that any pill that doesn’t come directly from a pharmacy could kill you

Can you tell fake pills apart from real pills?

  • Fake pills often contain fentanyl and it’s impossible to spot the differences between deadly fake pills and real pills
  • The drug dealers can make the fake pills look exactly like real pills
(Source: DEA)

How deadly is fentanyl?

  • A minuscule amount of fentanyl - merely 2 milligrams, which is roughly equivalent to a few grains of salt - could potentially be lethal
  • Many students think they can just break a pill in half, but fake pills may not be mixed evenly, so one fraction of a pill could be deadly
  • Look at this image of the penny. That is a lethal dose of fentanyl
(Source: DEA)

What drug dealers don’t want you to know 

  • Only an adult can get real medication from a real pharmacist or doctor at a pharmacy or doctor's office
  • Most sellers can’t guarantee that the pills are fentanyl free
  • They may claim that their pills are “clean” but that is often a lie
  • It’s illegal to buy any pills without a prescription from a real doctor
  • It’s also illegal to possess any pills that aren’t prescribed to you with your name on the bottle
  • Every state is different: In California, here’s the law: 
  • ~Unlawful possession of prescription drugs falls under “unlawful possession of a controlled substance” in California law, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000

Protecting students from drugs online

(Source: DEA)
  • Even if you are getting drugs from a close friend they may not know where those drugs came from
  • Percocet, Oxycodone, Xanax, and Adderall are commonly sold online, often using emojis or coded names
  • Any of these drugs can be fake pills and contain fentanyl
  • Social media is often used to advertise and sell drugs
  • If you have a smartphone and/or a social media account then a drug trafficker can find you

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators 

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Full Event: Avoiding Strangers, Drugs, and Dangerous Situations Online

Avoiding Strangers and Dangerous Situations Online (For Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Knowing Your Friends

  • What should you do when someone you’ve never met sends you a friend request or another request to connect?

Topic: Recognizing Manipulation

  • How can you know when someone is trying to trick you online about who they are? 

Topic: Protecting Personal Information

  • What are some private details you should never share online? 

Topic: Trusted Adults

  • Who are some people you could talk to if you saw something that made you uncomfortable online?

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Recognizing Coercion

  • How can you identify subtle forms of manipulation that may be used by online predators to gain control over others?

Topic: Online Privacy and Security

  • What are some advanced measures you can take to protect your online privacy and personal information?

Topic: Terrifying Outcomes

  • The woman in the video was kidnapped after a stranger stalked her online even though she thought she was being careful about not telling him personal things. What is some information you might give a stranger by mistake, thinking it’s harmless? 

Topic: Recognizing Coercion

  • How can you identify subtle forms of manipulation that may be used by online predators to gain control over others?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Please Go Away

  • How do you deal with a stranger who keeps trying to engage you online even though you don’t feel comfortable?

Topic: What’s Safe to Say?

  • The woman in the video who was kidnapped by a cyberstalker thought she was being careful. What kind of personal information could help a predator find where you are? 

Topic: Exploiting Emotional Needs

  • The video also talks about universal emotional needs for love, acceptance, and belonging. How hard do you think it would be for a stranger to convince someone online that they share a connection by playing to these needs? 

Topic: Online Safety Advocacy

  • What actions can you and your friends take to encourage younger people in your community to be aware of their safety online?

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Avoiding Strangers and Dangerous Situations Online (For Parents & Educators)

The Real Truth on Drugs (For Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Drug Safety Awareness

  • What is fentanyl, and why is it dangerous? 

Topic: Trusted Sources

  • Why is it safer to get medicine from a doctor or a licensed pharmacist rather than buying it from unknown sources?

Topic: Trusted Adults

  • Who can you talk to if you have questions or concerns about medicine and its safety?

Topic: Making Safe Choices

  • What are some strategies you can use to make sure the medicine you are taking is safe

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Understanding Fentanyl

  • Why is fentanyl so dangerous, and how is it being misused in illegally sold drugs?

Topic: Risks of Counterfeit Medication

  • What are the potential risks and consequences of taking medication that hasn't been prescribed by a doctor?

Topic: Peer Influence

  • How can you resist peer pressure if friends offer you pills or drugs that are not prescribed for you?

Topic: Seeking Help

  • Who can you turn to for guidance if you suspect that someone you know may be involved in buying or selling drugs online?

High School Students (SEL Questions)

Topic: Fentanyl Crisis

  • When you hear about people dying from fentanyl overdose, does it seem like something that could happen in your community?

Topic: Identifying Fake Medication

  • If someone sold you pills, or you ordered pills online, how would you be able to identify counterfeit drugs versus the real thing?

Topic: Deadly Risk

  • How much fentanyl does it take to kill someone? 

Topic: Advocacy and Awareness

  • How can students get involved in advocacy to combat the dangers of buying drugs online?

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

The Real Truth on Drugs (For Parents & Educators)

Staying Safe Online by Balancing Screen Time (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Balancing Screen Time and Playtime

  • How do you decide when it’s time to take a break from screens and go outside to play or do other activities? 

Topic: Seeking Help From Adults

  • How do you know when to alert an adult to something you’ve seen or experienced online? 

Topic: Online Kindness

  • We hear a lot about cyberbullying—being mean to someone online–and it can be a very serious problem. But does anyone have an example of ways people use the Internet to be kind? 

Topic: Staying Connected

  • How can you balance communicating with friends on your phone to stay in touch with friends other things you want to do? 

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Managing Screen Time Wisely

  • How can you balance your screen time with schoolwork, fun, and responsibilities? 

Topic: Using the Tools

  • What if any apps have you tried to limit screen time, especially when you really need to focus?

Topic: Building Positive Relationships

  • In your experience, does communicating through apps strengthen friendships? 

Topic: Empathy and Online Communications

  • In person, people use a lot of nonverbal communication to show their feelings. How can you express empathy online when someone is having a hard time? 

High School Students (SEL Questions)

Topic: A Footprint that Lasts

  • How can the things you post, comment on, or share on social media affect your reputation? 

Topic: Family Communication

  • How can parents and students work together to agree on fair and effective screen time expectations while respecting the student’s desire for independence and privacy? 

Topic: Tools for Finding Balance

  • What apps or settings do you know about that can help you remember to put down your phone when you need to focus on other things? 

Topic: Cyber Kindness

  • We talk a lot about cyberbullying, which is a serious problem. But since we’re talking about screen-time balance, how can you also use an app to make someone feel good? 

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Staying Safe Online by Balancing Screen Time (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Using Social Media in a Safe and Positive Way (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: When to Say Something

  •  If someone is chatting with you online and says something that seems inappropriate, what can you do? 

Topic: Screen Time Limits

  •  How can you enjoy games and apps and still make sure you have enough time for your homework? 

Topic: Positive Influences

  •  If you have a unique interest or a skill you want to learn, where could you look online to find out more about it? 

Topic: Helping a Friend

  • How could you help a friend who confides they feel worse about themselves after comparing themselves to people online? 

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Time Awareness

  • Apps are designed to keep you engaged so you’ll use them more and more. What are some ways you can make sure you don’t get sucked in and fall behind on other things?

Topic: Online Connections

  •  How can you make sure you only connect with people you know and trust online?

Topic: Common Interests

  •  What is something you really care about where you might enjoy joining an online group of others who share that interest? 

Topic: Seeking Help

  •  What would you do if someone made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe online? 

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Social Media Downsides

  •  Why do some people say staring at social media for too long has a negative impact on their emotional health? 

Topic: Online Inspo

  • Where would be a place online to learn more about activities or people that inspire you (following a mentor on Instagram, watching how-to clips, etc.)?

Topic: Time Management

  •  What works best for you to remember to put down your phone to make sure other tasks get done? 

Topic: Choosing Your Online Friends

  •  How would your social media look different if you only followed / friended / connected with people whose values you share and who make you feel good about yourself? 

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Using Social Media in a Safe and Positive Way (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Talking to Strangers Online (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Recognizing Online Strangers

  •  What did you learn from the video about meeting strangers online? 

Topic: Safety and Friendships

  •  A girl in the video said that if a friend wanted to meet someone in person that they only knew online, she would tell them that was a bad idea. What would you tell your friend?  

Topic: Learning Something New

  • What are some hobbies you’ve learned, or might want to learn, using YouTube videos and other social media? 

Topic: Social Media Positives and Negatives

  • How do you think using social media to connect with friends positively impacts your life? 

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Identifying Red Flags

  •  What are some things someone might say online that would make you ask if this is a person you really want to talk to?

Topic: Advice for Friends

  • What would you tell someone who “met” someone online and planned to meet up with him or her in person?

Topic: Know Who You’re Talking To

  •  How can you tell if people are who they say they are online? 

Topic: Responsible Use of Social Media:

  • How can you ensure that your use of apps like Snapchat and TikTok  remains positive and respectful?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Online Vigilance

  •  What is the weirdest or most unsettling thing a stranger has ever said to you or asked you in an app or game? 

Topic: Strangers Who Pose as Students

  •  If someone claims online to be a student at another school, how can you verify they are who they say they are? 

Topic: Impact of Social Media:

  • Has the use of social media and online communication helped you save time, waste time, or both? 

Topic:  Integrity and Values Online:

  • How can you maintain your integrity and values while engaging in online activities?

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Talking to Strangers Online (For Students, Parents & Educators)

Avoiding Strangers Online (Expert Video for Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Identifying Online Tricks

  • Can you think of ways someone might try to trick you online?

Topic: Working Together

  • How can kids and parents work together to create positive strategies for screen time? 

Topic: Phone Rules

  • What are some reasons a family might set a rule that for kids your age, cell phones should only be used out in common areas?

Topic: Positive Online Experiences

  • Can you share a fun or positive experience you’ve had online doing something different?

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Online Boundaries

  • How can you protect your privacy while interacting with people you don’t know on social media? 

Topic: Knowing Your Real Friends

  • Why is it important to maintain close relationships that are separate from online activities? 

Topic: Seeking Help from Adults

  • What advice would you give someone who’s hesitant to talk to a trusted adult about something uncomfortable they’ve experienced online? 

Topic: Family Conversations

  • How can parents and children work together to develop age-appropriate rules around cell phones?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Online Privacy

  • Name an example of personal details you might think are harmless but might accidentally help a stranger locate more information about you. 

Topic: A Friend in Trouble? 

  • What would you advise a friend who talks about spending a lot of time chatting with a stranger they met online and seems to be isolating from others? 

Topic: Online Manipulation

  • What are some ways a predator can manipulate a person’s emotions? 

Topic: Uncomfortable Places

  • Are there any apps you feel like you need to avoid because of the kinds of people you encounter there?

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Avoiding Strangers Online (Expert Video for Parents & Educators)

Avoiding Dangerous Situations Online (Expert Video for Students & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Privacy Settings

  •  Why is it important to check and adjust your privacy settings on social media? 

Topic: Online Connections

  •  How can you make sure you only connect with people you know and trust online?

Topic: Personal Information

  •  What can you do if someone online asks for personal information or inappropriate photos?

Topic: Seeking Help

  •  What would you do if someone made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe online?

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Online Predators

  • What are some ways that predators might try to gain the trust of a student online? 

Topic: Where Strangers Lurk

  • What are some of the places a predator—or an adult posing as someone your age—might hang out online to try to “meet” students? 

Topic: Privacy Protection

  • What steps can you take to safeguard private information on social media?

Topic: Digital Bystanders

  • How can you be a supportive friend to somebody who’s feeling threatened or intimidated by a stranger online?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Consent and Vulnerability

  • If a friend who was going through a hard time confided to you that they had “met” a friend online who really understood her, what questions could you ask to make sure she’s not at risk of being exploited? 

Topic: Sexting

  • Personal values aside, what harm could come from sending a revealing photo to a “friend” online who asked for it? 

Topic: Digital Literacy

  • How can you critically evaluate the credibility of information and people you encounter online to avoid potential dangers?

Topic: Going in Ghost Mode

  • What do you know about Snap Map, and how can you use it safely?

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Avoiding Dangerous Situations Online (Expert Video for Students & Educators)

Avoiding Drugs Online (Expert Video for Parents & Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Spotting the Seller

  • How can you avoid engaging in conversation with a stranger who might be trying to sell you drugs?

Topic: Making Vaping Sound Good

  • One of the things strangers will do online is try to get kids into vaping. What do you think about vaping? 

Topic: Where to Look

  • Can you name an app where you might find someone trying to sell you pills?

Topic: Trusted Adults

  • Who are some adults you feel comfortable talking to if you see something that looks wrong online?

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Reporting and Responsibility

  • Why is reporting concerning online behavior related to drugs a responsible action, and what are the potential consequences of not reporting it?

Topic: Supporting Friends

  • If you suspect a friend is getting involved with drugs, what can you do to help them?

Topic: When Legal Drugs are Illegal

  • What prescription drugs have you heard of someone buying from a stranger or taking from the person whose name is on the prescription?

Topic: Peer Influence

  • The video talked about problems with vaping. What are some risks associated with vaping?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Drugs Online

  • What are the risks of buying drugs—including prescription drugs that weren’t prescribed for you by a real doctor—online? 

Topic: Dealers in Disguise

  • Not every drug dealer is selling drugs online, but they might be trying to recruit new customers online. How can you spot a dealer online? 

Topic: Unhealthy Choices

  • The video also talks about vaping being advertised online. What problems can result from vaping, now and in the long term?

Topic: Looking Out for Friends

  • If you suspect a friend is using drugs, what would be the best thing to do to protect them?

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Avoiding Drugs Online (Expert Video for Parents & Educators)

Learn How Just One Pill Can Kill (Video About Fentanyl)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Drugs That Look Like Candy

  • The video talked about pills in rainbow colors that are made to look like candy. Does that make the pills seem harmless? 

Topic: Making Safe Choices

  • How can you make sure you don’t engage in conversations with strangers online who might try to sell or offer drugs? 

Topic: Peer Pressure

  • What can you do if someone you know online tries to pressure you into talking about drugs or vaping? 

Topic: Reporting Concerns

  • Why is it important to tell a trusted adult about any messages or posts related to illegal drug activity that you come across online?

Middle School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Fake Pills

  • How are students dying from fentanyl overdoses when they don’t even realize the pills they have contain fentanyl? 

Topic: Buyer Beware

  • Why would someone go online to buy prescription drugs? 

Topic: The Dangers of Vaping

  • One of the experts in the video talked about the dangers of vaping as well as using illegal drugs. What are the health risks associated with vaping? 

Topic: Supporting Friends 

  • If you suspect a friend is getting involved with drugs, what can you do to help them?

High School Students (SEL Questions):

Topic: Online Dealers

  • What are some prescription drugs that people can buy on SnapChat and other apps?

Topic: Tragic Outcomes

  • The parents in the video who had lost children to fentanyl overdoses said their kids never knew they were taking fentanyl. How can that happen? 

Topic: Vaping and Your Health

  • The Internet is also full of online vape shops. What are some of the health risks associated with vaping? 

Topic: Friends in Trouble

  • If you found out one of your friends had gotten involved in drugs, what would you do?

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Learn How Just One Pill Can Kill (Video About Fentanyl)

Avoiding Strangers, Drugs, and Dangerous Situations Online

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We live in a digital world and that opens up some amazing opportunities for students. Unfortunately, it also comes with some risks, including the potential of running into strangers, drugs, and dangerous situations online. 

Protecting kids online is top priority for parents and educators. Setting well thought out internet safety rules for kids can help, but kids and teens also need to understand why it is important for them to avoid certain behaviors and interactions online. This guide for parents, students, and educators will help teens learn how to spot red flags online so they can avoid dangerous situations.

Educators and parents: Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

Talking to Strangers Online (Student Video)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Elementary School Topic: Safety and Friendships

  • A girl in the video said that if a friend wanted to meet someone in person that they only knew online, she would tell them that was a bad idea. What would you tell your friend?

Middle School Topic: Know Who You’re Talking To

  • How can you tell if people are who they say they are online?

High School Topic: Strangers Who Pose as Students

  • If someone claims online to be a student at another school, how can you verify they are who they say they are?

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Using Social Media in a Safe and Positive Way (Student Video)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Elementary School Topic: Positive Influences

  • If you have a unique interest or a skill you want to learn, where could you look online to find out more about it?

Middle School Topic: Common Interests

  • What is something you really care about where you might enjoy joining an online group of others who share that interest?

High School Topic: Choosing Your Online Friends

  • How would your social media look different if you only followed / friended / connected with people whose values you share and who make you feel good about yourself?

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Staying Safe Online by Balancing Screen Time (Student Video)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Elementary School Topic: Seeking Help From Adults

  • How do you know when to alert an adult to something you’ve seen or experienced online?

Middle School Topic: Using the Tools

  • What if any apps have you tried to limit screen time, especially when you really need to focus?

High School Topic: Tools for Finding Balance

  • What apps or settings do you know about that can help you remember to put down your phone when you need to focus on other things?

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Avoiding Strangers and Dangerous Situations Online (Student, Parent, and Educator Video)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Elementary School Topic: Knowing Your Friends

  • What should you do when someone you’ve never met sends you a friend request or another request to connect?

Middle School Topic: Recognizing Coercion

  • How can you identify subtle forms of manipulation that may be used by online predators to gain control over others?

High School Topic: Please Go Away

  • How do you deal with a stranger who keeps trying to engage you online even though you don’t feel comfortable?

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

What do online predators not want you to know?

  • Predators are really good at acting like someone you can be friends with
  • You may have already interacted with a predator and not known it
  • Everyone needs affection, belonging, and recognition and predators work to pretend to meet those needs in order to draw their victims in

Online predators have a plan to build trust

  • Predators will try and follow 100 students at a single school and they will go through your entire friend list to add your friends online
  • About 25% of those students will accept the random friend request, because the predator has fake photos that look like a teen who could go to your school
  • Predators do this so you have at least 5-15 friends in common, making it easier to trust them

The Real Truth on Drugs (Student, Parent, and Educator Video)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Elementary School Topic: Trusted Sources

  • Why is it safer to get medicine from a doctor or a licensed pharmacist rather than buying it from unknown sources?

Middle School Topic: Trusted Adults

  • Who can you talk to if you have questions or concerns about medicine and its safety?

High School Topic: Making Safe Choices

  • What are some strategies you can use to make sure the medicine you are taking is safe?

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Avoiding Strangers Online (Expert Video for Parents, Students, and Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Elementary School Topic: Knowing Your Friends

  • What should you do when someone you’ve never met sends you a friend request or another request to connect?

Middle School Topic: Recognizing Coercion

  • How can you identify subtle forms of manipulation that may be used by online predators to gain control over others?

High School Topic: Please Go Away

  • How do you deal with a stranger who keeps trying to engage you online even though you don’t feel comfortable?

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Avoiding Dangerous Situations Online (Expert Video for Parents, Students, and Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Elementary School Topic: Personal Information

  • What can you do if someone online asks for personal information or inappropriate photos?

Middle School Topic: Privacy Protection

  • What steps can you take to safeguard private information on social media?

High School Topic: Going in Ghost Mode

  • What do you know about Snap Map, and how can you use it safely?

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Avoiding Drugs Online (Expert Video for Parents, Students, and Educators)

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Elementary School Topic: Trusted Adults

  • Who are some adults you feel comfortable talking to if you see something that looks wrong online?

Middle School Topic: Peer Influence

  • The video talked about problems with vaping. What are some risks associated with vaping?

High School Topic: Drugs Online

  • What are the risks of buying drugs—including prescription drugs that weren’t prescribed for you by a real doctor—online?

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

How do online predators trick students? 

Predators first work on building trust

  • Compliments: They will give compliments to boost your self-esteem, for example, "You're so smart and beautiful."
  • Shared Interests: Predators will claim to have the same interests as you. "I love that band too!"
  • Building Trust: Predators will often start by being friendly and supportive. They might say, "I'm here to listen and help you."
  • Impersonation: Some may pose as someone you already know, like a student at your school or another school down the street, in order to build trust, for example:  "I'm [Name] from your school. And we have a lot of friends in common.”

Once predators build trust they work to make you feel bonded to them

  • Creating Secrecy: They may encourage secrecy, saying, "Let's keep this conversation just between us. Go create a new username or account on _____ app so we can chat there."
  • ~Predators want to have an open line of communication without your friends or parents knowing what that new account is
  • Isolation: Predators might attempt to isolate you from friends and family, saying things like, "They don't understand you like I do."
  • ~This makes you feel like you are getting affection, belonging, and recognition
  • Sympathy and Empathy: They'll pretend to understand your problems and offer sympathy, saying, "I'm here for you, no matter what."
  • Offering Gifts or Favors: Predators may offer gifts or favors online or offline. "I can buy you that game you've been wanting."
  • ~Teens get a rush from free things and this is designed to get your attention and have you look to the predator as a source of getting your needs met
  • Flirting: Predators may engage in online flirting to make the student feel special and desired

Predators escalate and phish for additional information as you get more comfortable with them

  • Requesting Personal Information: They may ask for phone numbers, addresses, or school details
  • Requesting Photos: Predators will often request photos, starting innocently but gradually becoming more explicit
  • Gradual Escalation: They'll progressively steer the conversation toward more personal and inappropriate topics or requests

Once they have what they want, predators will flip on you

  • Manipulating Boundaries: They might push boundaries, saying, "Trust me, it's normal for friends to do this."
  • Emotional Manipulation: They may use guilt or threats to manipulate you. "If you don't do this for me, I'll tell everyone about our conversations and share them with your family and friends."
  • Threats and Blackmail: If you begin to resist or pull away, some predators resort to threats or blackmail, such as sharing private information or photos they've already received

How students can protect themselves from predators

  • Guard Your Privacy: Your personal information is yours; keep it that way
  • Friend Requests Matter: Know who's adding you; not all connections are real
  • Screenshots for Safety: Snap proof if someone's crossing boundaries; share with a trusted adult
  • Block and Report: Don't hold back; use 'block' and 'report' when needed
  • Spot Red Flags: Trust your instincts; and stay skeptical online of anything that seems too good to be true

Avoiding fentanyl and other drugs online

  • Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug used for pain relief by doctors but it is only safe when used under a doctor’s care
  • It’s often used as a filler in drugs sold on Snapchat & other apps (Adderall, Xanax, Oxycodone) and it can be deadly
  • Fake pills often contain fentanyl and are more lethal than ever before

Fake pills can be lethal

  • Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin
  • People who create fake pills sometimes use fentanyl as a filler
  • It takes very little fentanyl to produce a “high” so drug dealers can use less of the other drugs in their pills 
  • This makes it cheaper for them to make fake pills
  • According the DEA, six out of every ten pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose (Source: DEA.gov)
  • That means that any pill that doesn’t come directly from a pharmacy could kill you

Can you tell fake pills apart from real pills?

  • Fake pills often contain fentanyl and it’s impossible to spot the differences between deadly fake pills and real pills
  • The drug dealers can make the fake pills look exactly like real pills
(Source: DEA)

How deadly is fentanyl?

  • A minuscule amount of fentanyl - merely 2 milligrams, which is roughly equivalent to a few grains of salt - could potentially be lethal
  • Many students think they can just break a pill in half, but fake pills may not be mixed evenly, so one fraction of a pill could be deadly
  • Look at this image of the penny. That is a lethal dose of fentanyl
(Source: DEA)

What drug dealers don’t want you to know 

  • Only an adult can get real medication from a real pharmacist or doctor at a pharmacy or doctor's office
  • Most sellers can’t guarantee that the pills are fentanyl free
  • They may claim that their pills are “clean” but that is often a lie
  • It’s illegal to buy any pills without a prescription from a real doctor
  • It’s also illegal to possess any pills that aren’t prescribed to you with your name on the bottle
  • Every state is different: In California, here’s the law: 
  • ~Unlawful possession of prescription drugs falls under “unlawful possession of a controlled substance” in California law, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000

Protecting students from drugs online

(Source: DEA)
  • Even if you are getting drugs from a close friend they may not know where those drugs came from
  • Percocet, Oxycodone, Xanax, and Adderall are commonly sold online, often using emojis or coded names
  • Any of these drugs can be fake pills and contain fentanyl
  • Social media is often used to advertise and sell drugs
  • If you have a smartphone and/or a social media account then a drug trafficker can find you

Just One Pill Can Kill (Video)   

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Elementary School Topic: Peer Pressure

  • What can you do if someone you know online tries to pressure you into talking about drugs or vaping?

Middle School Topic: Fake Pills

  • How are students dying from fentanyl overdoses when they don’t even realize the pills they have contain fentanyl?

High School Topic: Tragic Outcomes

  • The parents in the video who had lost children to fentanyl overdoses said their kids never knew they were taking fentanyl. How can that happen?

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

More resources for Parents, Students, & Educators 

Conclusion

Students are digital natives and between screen time at home and screen time at school, they often spend quite a bit of time online. Protecting kids online is more important today than ever before with the risk of online predators, online drug sales, and other dangerous situations that kids have the potential to be exposed to. The most important defense against these online risks is having an ongoing dialogue with students so they understand what red flags they should be looking out for and know what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.

English Language Live Event Replay

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Spanish Language Event Replay

Repetición de Evento en Vivo

District Leaders: Please do not share this in your community without written permission or a current school district license with SmartSocial.com. Please be sure to check in with us before sharing. Partner with SmartSocial here.

Mandarin Chinese Event Replay

这是我们的普通话活动回放。

District Leaders: Please do not share this in your community without written permission or a current school district license with SmartSocial.com. Please be sure to check in with us before sharing. Partner with SmartSocial here.

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In this guide, parents & educators will learn:

  • Tricks online predators use to target teens online
  • Red flags teens should be aware of online
  • What to do if teens feel uncomfortable with a situation online

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