Thursday, June 23, 2011

Online Safety for Kids Series Part 3

Our new book 'Empower Your Kids to be Safe...For Life' has been getting fantastic reviews and I am really stoked with the feedback. So I thought I'd pick some pieces of it and give them away for free to you. So over the next few blogs I will reporoduce parts of the section on Online safety, as I receive quite a few questions about this subject. Please let me know if you have any questions. Cheers. Phil

3)Ensure that all Security Software is Installed and Up To Date.

A computer without adequate, updated virus protection software is exposed to multiple risks including Malware (malicious software including viruses, spyware, trojan horses, adware, and spam), Identity theft, Spoofing, Phishing, and Keystroke loggers. It is vital that you have adequate software installed and that it is kept updated to protect your kids and yourself from these threats.

For younger children (pre-teen) you may also choose to register with a child specific ISP (Internet Service Provider). These ISP’s function as your child’s home page browser and only allow children to surf areas of the internet that are approved for children of specific ages. There are several of these browsers available. Two of them are and

A question of choice...

I was working with a group of young students this week and one of them, who was really genuinely concerned, asked me a question:

"I'm going to a party on Friday. There are going to be a bunch of guys there who always start fights, they carry knives and one of them stabbed a guy at a party last year and is a real psycho. Everyone knows they are going to start something on Friday, 'cause some of the other guys who are going to be there had a fight with them before. What can I do to protect myself?".

Of course he was looking for some magic move or tactic.

From there the conversation went something like this:

Me: "Mate, I can give you a strategy will will absolutely GUARANTEE that you won't be stabbed or bashed at the party, 100%, sound good?"

Him: "Yeah, cool. That's what I need"

His mate: "Yeah, Can you show me too?"

Me: "Of course, I'm happy to"

His mate: "Awesome'

Me: "Don't go to the party."

Them both: "Oh, aye?"

Me: "Use your heads fella's. This is self defence 101. You know there is a high liklihood of trouble, you are worried that you may be bashed or stabbed. You almost know for sure that shit is going to go down there...So why would you go? Seriously guys, find another party"

Him: "Oh, yeah, I s'pose"

Me: "That's the best advice I can give you guys. You asked me, and I'm telling you. Don't go, it's not worth it."

Them: "Yeah, true aye, we didn't really look at it that way. Yeah, that's cool"

I hope like hell that they listened. Sometimes people just need to hear the obvious. Stage 1 of what we teach: Avoidance through awareness and recognition.

Just thought I'd share it anyway...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

'Hero' could easily have become a martyr...

I have received several emails about this event: (Read the article and see my comments at the bottom)

Gun terror: 'I'll shoot her'
By Michael Dickison 5:30 AM Friday Jun 17, 2011

Link to original article HERE

A shopkeeper used a hockey stick to fend off an armed gunman who was holding a pistol to the head of a customer, the mother of "two beautiful, young children".

As the robber demanded cash from the till - "Give me money or I'll shoot her" - the dairy owner had other ideas.

Jayesh Amin, owner of the Farm Cove Superette in East Auckland, said he could think only of saving the woman, a regular customer who he knew had two children.

Mr Amin was preparing to close the shop at 7.45pm on Wednesday when his last customer approached the counter with a couple of icecreams.

At the same moment, a young hooded man ran in, grabbed the woman by the neck, shoved a pistol at her head and yelled: "Give me money or I'll shoot her."

For a couple of seconds, Mr Amin stood frozen. "I was shocked because it happened so fast. I didn't understand what was happening."

Another man came in with a metal bar and told the first offender: "Go ahead, bro, go ahead, bro. Shoot her, bro."

As the second man lunged across the counter, Mr Amin was too rattled to notice that a third robber had followed the others into the store.

Mr Amin took $600 from the till and held it up.

"I offered the money. I told them to leave the woman alone and take the money: 'Don't do anything silly - just leave the woman'."

But instead of reaching for the money, the three young men yelled further threats at the female customer.

"They should have come to me to take the money but they didn't," Mr Amin said.

"It was very hard to know what to do because I had shown them the money. My first priority was to save the woman. She was local and I knew she had two beautiful young children."

So Mr Amin reached behind the counter for a hockey stick he had there and swung wildly at the three men.

He struck one, then ran around the counter towards the man with the gun.

The three men scurried out the front door.

"I think they got a little scared," Mr Amin said.

Police were quickly on the scene - Mr Amin's wife saw the incident on a security camera monitor in their upstairs residence, and called 111.

Two teenagers have been arrested for the robbery and appeared in court yesterday. Two others - one the driver of a getaway car - are being sought.

Last night, Mr Amin said he was still shaking because of the ordeal.

"I'm so tired. I couldn't sleep all night," he said. "From yesterday morning at seven, I haven't slept. I was so scared."

The drama did not end with the robbers running out the door.

Mr Amin chased them outside and called for help. The owner and chef from the next-door restaurant came to his aid.

The three robbers then ran to a car driven by a fourth man and sped away - only to be pursued by a member of the public.

The man chased the offenders until they stopped the car, got out and one pointed the gun at him.

As the man tried to flee, his rear windscreen shattered.

Police say they are exploring several possible reasons for the window breaking, and have not confirmed that it was caused by a gunshot.

The four offenders abandoned the car, and police later found an air pistol in it.

The two men arrested are aged 17 and 18 and appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday on charges of assault with intent to rob, threatening to kill and commission of a crime with a firearm. Further charges may follow.

Police said that the store owner and the customer escaped serious injury but had been extremely shaken by events and were being counselled by Victim Support.

Detective Senior Sergeant Albie Alexander said criminal investigation branch staff had examined the premises and were following "very positive" leads regarding the identity of the two missing suspects.

By Michael Dickison

When I first heard this story I was told that a man had pointed a gun at the dairy owner and instead of handing over cash he had attacked the offender with a hockey stick and chased him out of the store. At that point he was being hailed a hero. Based on that limited information, I thought it was another case of a 'hero' who could have easily become a martyr. This is NOT the right course of action to take in armed hold up situations in most cases, the best option is compliance.

But then I looked into this further and the above article shed different light on the situation. Mr Amin did comply and offer money, but the offender did not take it and instead began to escalate his level of violence towards the woman who was at that stage being used as a hostage. That changes thinigs, and like it or not, unless you were actually there in that situation, none of us can say what was right and what was wrong. At the end of the day, what Mr Amin chose to do worked. Could he have taken other options, possibly, yes, but what he did was successful and I agree that he should be acknowledged for his actions.

What worries me is that many are hailing his actions as the way everyone should deal with these situations, and that is wrong. Black and white. Mr Amin's situation should not be considered typical. Confronting armed robbers in most cases is not a good thing. Bluntly, it may get you killed. In Mr Amin's unique situation, I applaude him for doing what he believed to be right in the moment, and acting in spite of his fear in defence of another person, and his actions worked. But his situation is not ALL situations, and therefore I am worried to hear the attitude of many that this response should be applied to ALL situations, as it most definitely should not.

My advice is to get some training around Armed Holdup Safety. Protect's half day course is excellent and provides people with realistic skills and options to deal with the majority of situations. Training can obviously help prepare people to deal with a situation in the best possible way, and also to control impulsive behaviour which could place you in danger, such as chasing the offenders car down the road, forcing them to stop, get out, and point the gun at the person. This could have had disatrous conssequesces. Our course teaches how to reduce the chances of an armed hold up, how to best manage during one, and how to manage the scene directly afterwards too. All three of these aspects are vital to understand, are highly valuable as a life skill, and believe it or not are actually interesting and even 'fun' to learn.

Remember, you don't need to work in a job where armed hold up is possible/probable to be involved in one. You may be a customer in a bank, service station, dairy, liqour store, bar, or anywhere that has cash or merchandise. So these skills are important to know.

My main point here is that Mr Amin did very well given the options and training he had available to him, and good on him for that. Please do not look at this situation though and think it is typical and that Mr Amin's response should be generically applied, as that is not (by a long shot) the best option.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Online Safety For Kids Series - Part 2

Our new book 'Empower Your Kids to be Safe...For Life' has been getting fantastic reviews and I am really stoked with the feedback. So I thought I'd pick some pieces of it and give them away for free to you. So over the next few blogs I will reporoduce parts of the section on Online safety, as I receive quite a few questions about this subject. Please let me know if you have any questions. Cheers. Phil

2) Openly Communicate and Participate

The more that you participate and communicate with your child about their online activities, without seeming meddlesome, the more you will be able to understand what they get up to and how safe they are being.

One of the best ways to do this is to let them show you, and teach you, things on the internet. Be open to learning new things from them and ask relevant (sometimes ‘loaded’) questions as you go. For example: “Thanks for showing me how the chat room works, can you please tell me how to make sure that no-one can view my personal information? Also, what are the best strategies that you use to avoid contact with predators online?” Questions like this allow you to gauge their level of understanding and competence in this area, and if it is good, you can reinforce it with praise. If it is clearly lacking you can give them guidance and help them set new boundaries.

It is also important that you understand chat and SMS text lingo. It can seem like a completely different language and it is important that you at least understand the basics of it to know what is being said.
Examples of just a few of the commonly used chat acronyms are:

A/S/L = Age/Sex/Location

CD9 or just 9 = Parents are around/watching

CTN = Can’t talk now

LMIRL = Lets meet in real life

ILU = I love you

IWSN = I want sex now

F2F = Face to face

GNOC = Get naked on cam

HAK = Hugs and kisses

KPC = Keeping parents clueless

TDTM = Talk dirty to me

PAL = Parents are listening

PAW = Parents are watching

WTF = What the f**k

WYRN = What’s your real name?

These are just a few of the relevant ones, so you can see that without any knowledge of chat lingo your kids could very well keep you in the ‘KPC’ category.

An excellent website that has been set up to help you decipher and understand chat lingo is They even have an ‘Acronyms for parents’ section with the top chat acronyms that parents need to know.

3) To be continued in the next blog...

Wellington Charity Event: Women's Safety Seminar

Darcy Mellsop doing some awesome stuff in Wellington again! If you are in the Hutt Valley (or anywhere in Wellington, it'll be worth the travel!) be sure to get along to this information event, which is raising money for Wellington woman's refuge, organised by Anna Nankivell from Remax Lower Hutt. What a great community initiative, this will be excellent! Get there if you can! :-) Phil

Monday, June 6, 2011

Online Safety For Kids Series - Part 1

Our new book 'Empower Your Kids to be Safe...For Life' has been getting fantastic reviews and I am really stoked with the feedback. So I thought I'd pick some pieces of it and give them away for free to you. So over the next few blogs I will reporoduce parts of the section on Online safety, as I receive quite a few questions about this subject. Please let me know if you have any questions. Cheers. Phil

Most kids regularly use the internet to safely interact with hundreds of people (who they either know or don’t know) through social network and gaming sites. The threat of online sexual predators may not be as prolific as the media will have us believe but it is certainly a genuine threat. Some sexual predators spend a great deal of time searching the internet for potential victims whom they can groom, so it is vital that kids know the risks of various activities, and how to stay safe from them.

To be able to successfully guide children to stay safe and be responsible on the internet it is important that the issues are openly communicated between you and your kids. What you perceive to be issues and what your kids perceive to be issues may be worlds apart, so it is important to bridge the gap to ensure that your kids ‘buy in’ to the rules. You can be sure that if kids don’t understand the reasons behind the internet safety rules, and if they think their parent is out of touch and doesn’t understand how things really work on the internet (a commonly held, and sometimes accurate belief among a lot of kids), they will find a way to circumvent the rules. If they fully understand the actual risks, not the over exaggerated ones, and have the strategies to deal with them, then they will follow the rules in any environment whether supervised or unsupervised. Remember, most kids have access to the internet from multiple different sources including home, school, work, internet cafe, friend’s houses, their cellphone/PDA, their friend’s cellphone/PDA etc, so it is unrealistic to think that you are going to be able to supervise all of their internet activity. That is why it is so important to work with your kids on this, not simply apply hard and fast rules which they resent or don’t understand. If you do take that position, as soon as they have the chance, and that will be often, they will ignore the rules (maybe even act in spite of them, which is even more dangerous) and be open to potential victimisation.

Before we look at the greatest risks that kids face on the internet, and strategies to address them, there are a couple of key strategies that you as the parent can take to ensure your children’s responsible and safe use of the internet:

1) Set Boundaries and Supervise Their Activities

Depending on the age of the child, there is one highly effective and important strategy that you can implement to minimise the online risks to your kids. I advocate this strategy for all pre-teen children. It is very simply:

Do not allow the computer to be located in the child’s bedroom or other private place, move it into a public area of the house.

This will help with the immediate issue of supervision while you teach your child how to use the internet safely.

Set boundaries with your kids including time limits online, and rules around the sharing/displaying of any kind of personal information online, as discussed below, and supervise their compliance. Keep in mind though that your kids probably know more about the internet than you do. If they do not understand why the rules are in place, and how they keep them safe, they will find a way around them. For example:

• You can check the browsing history to see what sites they have been to, but most kids know how to delete these and their temporary internet files to prevent you from checking up on them

• You can monitor their emails, but many kids set up multiple accounts; one for you to see and another for their private use. Additionally they will delete sent and received emails (or IM conversation logs) that they don’t want you to see

• You can watch their social networking pages, but often times kids will set up multiple pages; one which they allow you to see and join as their ‘friend’, and another which they use to communicate with their friends etc

• You can check the saved file content on the computer but kids will often just save anything they don’t want you to see on a removable hard drive and/or rename files to non descript and covert names which don’t attract any attention to them

• You can password protect their access, but most kids will bypass this very quickly

These are just a few of the ways kids can hide what they are doing online. There are of course other options available to parents such as installing overt or covert tracking software, but that only addresses the home computer use, not all of the other access points that they have to the internet. In my opinion the most effective way to ensure children’s online safety and responsibility is to openly educate and guide them, and let them be involved in the boundary setting (aka ‘rule setting’) process. If they feel that they helped make the rules, because they understand the risks, they will be more likely to always follow them wherever they are. Use the Online Safety Agreement in Appendix Four as a guide to set and agree on the boundaries.

2) To be continued in the next blog...