Crystal Sisson, the Prevention Educator for Holly’s House, joined us Thursday to tell us about a program Holly’s House offers that teaches kids about internet safety.
Here’s a transcript of the interview.
Shelley Kirk: Our Cybersafe Parent initiative continues tonight. Eyewitness News along with the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office and the EVSC have teamed up to help teach you about the dangers to your kids lurking in the cyberworld. Joining us now live from our call center is Crystal Sisson. Thank you Crystal for joining us. You are the Prevention Educator for Holly’s House. We appreciate you taking the time tonight to talk to us. You have a program that Holly’s House does, you brought to schools, to talk to kids.Tell us about that program.What do you talk about?
Crystal Sisson: This program is geared toward children who are in kindergarten up through sixth grade. We talk to them about basic safety skills. It also includes body safety, as well as bullying and internet safety.
SK: Well, you said kindergarten through sixth grade. Some of the topics in the cyberworld and on social media I would think, first off, might be too advanced for them. You know, you may not want to talk to your kids about. Do you talk to them about all of it?
CS: Yeah, we try to instill the awareness in even our younger kids, as they’re playing games on the Internet and using different apps. Sometimes, you know, people may try to communicate through those apps with those children — trying to teach them just to be aware if people are trying to ask too personal of information, that that’s the information we don’t want to give people on the internet. And of course, with the older children, we gear information to some of the apps they might be currently using or the games that they’re playing through the internet with their peers or even people across the world. So we just want them to be, just bring awareness to that, and also start the conversations with their families at home and staying safe when you’re playing online.
SK: And you really drive, it sounds like you really drive privacy, the fact to make sure they don’t give out personal information. Why is that so important for these kids to know?
CS: Well, you know, sometimes kids are just so free to give out that information. You know, they’re just so willing to share things about themselves whether it’s where they live, go to school, even how old they are. So we try to instill in them that information is private and when you’re on the internet anybody can see that. And sometimes, there are predators out there. that target children and take advantage of their willingness to share that information.
SK: Now how do you gauge success? How do you know that this is working?
CS: We actually do quite a bit of pre and post-testing with our children through the program. But we also do a lot of activity-based and discussion-based activities to gauge what they’re learning through our program, and we can also kind of gauge what more information they might be interested in learning as well — as we’re spending a week with them in their classrooms.
SK: It’s a whole that you’re there with them so you really do give them a lot of information. How can parents take this message and drive it even further for their kids?
CS: Well, one of the things we use is, along with the curriculum, each parent of those students gets a parent guide that goes home with them. And we encourage the students and the parents to use that parent guide as a way of continuing what we’ve taught them in the classroom and just opening up those conversations as a family.
SK: So this is a program, but I’m sure there are maybe some parents out there that their kids have not had this program. Could they get one of these guides?
CS: Yes they could. They could contact us at Holly’s House. We also have some links to the curriculum on our website, Hollyshouse.org. The developer of our curriculum has ways that parents can order it too, and it’s pretty cheap as well.
SK: Perfect! Okay, great! Crystal, you’re going to be on the call center for this evening so folks can call and talk with you directly about some of the things you talk about in this program and how parents can use that when they’re talking with kids too. All right, thank you Crystal. We appreciate you taking time.
CS: Thank you.
(This story was originally published on March 8, 2018)