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Avoiding Strangers, Drugs, and Dangerous Situations Online

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September 26, 2023

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

June 11, 2024

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 Replay: Avoiding Strangers, Drugs, and Dangerous Situations Online

The Real Truth on Drugs (For Students, Parents & Educators)

June 11, 2024

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (dialogue starters):

Drug Safety Awareness

  • What is fentanyl, and why is it dangerous? 

Trusted Sources

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

Trusted Adults

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

Middle School Students (dialogue starters):

Understanding Fentanyl

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

Risks of Counterfeit Medication

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

Peer Influence

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

High School Students (dialogue starters):

Fentanyl Crisis

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

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?

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 Students, Parents & Educators)

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

June 11, 2024

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (dialogue starters):

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 enjoy other activities? 

Seeking Help from Adults

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

Staying Connected

  • How can you balance time spent communicating with friends on your phone with other things you want to enjoy? 

Middle School Students (dialogue starters):

Managing Screen Time Wisely

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

Using the Tools

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

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 (dialogue starters)

A Footprint that Lasts

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

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? 

Cyber Kindness

  • We talk a lot about cyberbullying, which can cause real harm. How can a person do the opposite—use social media 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)

June 11, 2024

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (dialogue starters):

When to Say Something

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

Screen Time Limits

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

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 Students (dialogue starters):

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?

Common Interests

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

Seeking Help

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

High School Students (dialogue starters):

Social Media Downsides

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

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.)?

Time Management

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

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)

June 11, 2024

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (dialogue starters):

Recognizing Online Strangers

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

Learning Something New

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

Social Media Positives

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

Middle School Students (dialogue starters):

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?

Advice for Friends

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

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 (dialogue starters):

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? 

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? 

Impact of Social Media

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

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 and Dangerous Situations Online (For Students, Parents & Educators)

June 11, 2024

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (dialogue starters):

Strangers on the Internet

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

Knowing Your Friends

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

Protecting Personal Information

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

Middle School Students (dialogue starters):

Where Predators Are

  • The video talked about strangers who pretend to be kids in order to meet them online. What are some examples of apps or other places online these people might be? 

Online Privacy and Security

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

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 (dialogue starters):

Please Go Away

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

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? 

Online Safety Advocacy

  • What actions can you and your friends take to encourage young 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 Students, Parents & Educators)

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

June 11, 2024

Questions to prompt discussion with students:

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Elementary School Students (dialogue starters):

Making Safe Choices

  • Why is it important for students only to take medicine when it’s given to them by a parent, caregiver, or nurse/doctor? 

Peer Pressure

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

Reporting Concerns

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

Middle School Students (dialogue starters):

Fake Pills

  • How can someone ingest fentanyl without knowing they’re being exposed to this lethal substance? 

Buyer Beware

  • Why would someone go online to buy prescription drugs? 

Supporting Friends

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

High School Students (dialogue starters):

If Your Name’s Not on the Bottle…

  • What are the dangers of taking drugs that aren’t prescribed to you by a doctor? 

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? 

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 Dangerous Situations Online (For Parents & Educators)

June 12, 2024

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Key Takeaways:

  • No one is immune to social media risks, including coming into contact with dangerous people
  • Predators are very savvy about connecting  with students online, including pretending to be a student themselves and exploiting students’ need to feel understood and special
  • It’s imperative that students understand what kinds of information is or is not safe to disclose
  • Students need to have a plan for handling strangers and dangerous situations they encounter online, including taking screenshots and other documentation and talking with a parent or other trusted adult

Dialogue Starters:

Parents of Elementary School Students (to ask students)

Avoiding Strangers Online

  • What would you do if someone you don’t know started asking you personal questions during a video game or anywhere else online? 

Parents of Middle School Students (to ask students)

Protecting Privacy

  • What kind of information is too private or dangerous to reveal to a person you don’t know online?

Parents of High School Students (to ask students)

Red Flags

  • What would be some red flags that a person you’re interacting with online might be lying about their identity? 

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 (For Parents & Educators)

Avoiding Strangers Online (For Parents & Educators)

June 12, 2024

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Key Takeaways

  • The internet has become a minefield for predators who want to get access to kids
  • People who want to contact kids will use the same games, apps, and platforms that students enjoy in order to contact them
  • Predators are very good at disguising themselves as kind, understanding, exciting new friends
  • Making sure students have a healthy support network offline can make students less vulnerable to being lured in by a predator
  • Parents can help protect students by having ongoing, age-appropriate conversations with them about what is or isn’t okay for someone to say, ask, offer, or do online

Dialogue Starters:

Parents of Elementary School Students (to ask students)

Who to Trust

  • Why do you think the friends you know from school, playing in the neighborhood, or other in-person activities are safer to trust than someone who tries to be your friend on the computer or in a game? 

Parents of Middle School Students (to ask students)

When Someone Is “Too Nice”

  • What would you do if someone you meet online seems like a person you would enjoy being friends with, but you don’t really know who they are?

Parents of High School Students (to ask students)

Protecting Friends

  • If a friend told you they spent a lot of time talking online with someone they don’t actually know in real life, what would you want them to consider about this person?

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 (For Parents & Educators)

Avoiding Drugs Online (For Parents & Educators)

June 12, 2024

Parents and Teachers: View the full VIP Facilitation Guide Here

Key Takeaways

  • Vaping has become a major gateway drug, leading students to become more open to trying other drugs
  • Any app has the potential to become a way for drug dealers to connect with students
  • Students need to have trusted adults they can approach if they see a post or receive a message related to drug sales or drug use 
  • Parents should drive home the message that when students report information related to drug use, they could potentially save lives

Dialogue Starters:

Parents of Elementary School Students (to ask students)

Vaping Awareness

  • If you’ve heard about kids vaping, what can you tell me about what makes it so harmful and dangerous? 

Parents of Middle School Students (to ask students)

If You See Something, Say Something

  • What do you think is the best step to take if you encounter conversations about vaping or drugs online?

Parents of High School Students (to ask students)

Dealing Online

  • Why do you think drug dealers use social media as a way to connect with students who might be tempted to buy illegal drugs?

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 (For Parents & Educators)

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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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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