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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Help Your Child Manage a Positive Online Reputation

 rep·u·ta·tion noun \ˌre-pyə-ˈtā-shən\  - (a) overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general (b) recognition by other people of some characteristic or ability. 

At Child Quest International, we believe your digital reputation is defined by your behaviour in any online environment and by the content that you share about yourself and others in digital format.

We’re living digitized lives these days. Everything we say and do is captured, uploaded and archived across a number of connected devices.

That means that the video of you doing the electric slide in a banana suit at Aunt Marie’s 50th birthday party has a potential shelf life of forever once it has been uploaded to the web. Although your aunt has since deleted the embarrassing video, who knows how many people have found it and posted it somewhere else?

But enough about you—the real issue is how do you manage your child’s online reputation? With this inability to ultimately govern our data files, we need to embrace the importance of a positive online reputation and communicate that message to our youth.

Telling is good but asking is better

Parents, an open dialogue is critical to teaching your children how to manage their personal standing online. To create a positive reputation, serious thought must be given to how your children want to craft their online images. Think of it as building one’s own personal brand. What type of impression do your kids want to leave with others? What type of feeling do they want others to experience when engaging with their web presence?

Ask your kids about their online habits. Join the social networking sites that they belong to—see how they work, find out who else has joined, even “friend” your children.

You may be worried about cyberstalking your kids on Facebook and don’t want to invade their privacy. Don’t feel guilty about monitoring their networking activity. You’re giving them a false sense of security by leading them to believe that privacy exists on the Internet.

Remember: Children don’t yet fully understand the complexity of the advantages and pitfalls that arise from online social navigation. Adult supervision for proper online security is crucial if they are to make sound digital communication decisions.

Social media guidance at school

Teachers, counselors, administrators - engage your students in discussions on how reputations have been created and destroyed by something as simple as an email or a photo taken by a mobile phone. Highlight how celebrities, sports figures, beauty queens and politicians have all experienced the fallout from bad decisions that now exist on the web for eternity. 

Students may be familiar with the immediate consequences of social media mishaps. However, it’s vital that they grasp how their behavior across all digital devices strongly affects future opportunities as well, like admission to college, receiving scholarships and gaining employment.

Your young ones may not know it—and certainly would never admit it—but they need your help to cultivate successful online reputations. When you guide your children in posting positive images, videos, comments, etc., they get recognized in ways that will open doors to brilliant futures.

It’s your job to protect your child online

With the appropriate supervision, your kids will be seen as thought leaders, community participants, innovators and humanitarians. They will be recognized for their ideas and their ability to reach out globally. The Internet is a tool that offers boundless, attainable opportunities; they just need your help to make it happen.

Tips from on how to help you manage your child’s online reputation: 

1–To help your child create a positive brand, assist him or her in creating a website, blog or electronic portfolio. Use these digital vehicles to document accomplishments, community service and concern for current events taking place across the street and around the world.

2–With your child, scan and search what has been written about him or her online. This can be done on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis—whatever is manageable for the both of you.

3–If your child has uploaded or texted damaging information, act immediately to pull what has been posted. Contact your internet service provider, cell phone company, the website, etc. and walk through the process of how to remove the information.

[Source: ©]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

National Study from Common Sense Media Documents Media Use by Children Ages 0 to 8

October 25, 2011 - Did you read to your kids today? Did you hand over your iPhone at the grocery store? If so, you're not alone.

How families use media and what it means for kids' health and well-being is the subject of Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America, the first study by Common Sense Media's new Program for the Study of Children and Media. The report is featured in both the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle today.

The study shows that everything from iPods to smartphones to tablet computers are now a regular part of kids' lives, with kids under 8 averaging two hours a day with all screen media. Among the key findings:
  • 42% of children under 8 years old have a television in their bedroom.
  • Half (52%) of all 0- to 8-year-olds have access to a new mobile device, such as a smartphone, video iPod, or iPad/tablet. 
  • More than a third (38%) of children this age have used one of these devices, including 10% of 0-to 1-year-olds, 39% of 2- to 4-year-olds, and more than half (52%) of 5- to 8-year-olds.
  • In a typical day, one in 10 (11%) 0- to 8-year-olds uses a smartphone, video iPod, iPad, or similar device to play games, watch videos, or use other apps. Those who do such activities spend an average of 43 minutes a day doing so. 
  • In addition to the traditional digital divide, a new "app gap" has developed, with only 14% of lower-income parents having downloaded new media apps for their kids to use, compared to 47% of upper-income parents. 

Clearly, media has become a staple in young kids' daily lives and influences them in ways we don't yet fully understand. But by getting involved in your kid's media life, you can help them create healthy lifelong patterns that will truly make a difference in their lives:

About the Common Sense Media Research Program
The release of today's study serves as the launch of Common Sense Media's Program for the Study of Children and Media, a multi-year research effort directed by Vicky Rideout, a former vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.The goal of the program is to provide parents, educators, health organizations, and policymakers with reliable, independent data on children's use of media and technology and the impact this has on their physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development.

For analysis and full results of Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America, as well as more information about Common Sense Media's Program for the Study of Children and Media, visit

Friday, October 7, 2011

Suzanne's Law

"Suzanne's Law'' requires local authorities to notify the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) immediately if someone between the ages of 18 and 21 goes missing.  Suzanne's Law was signed into law by President Bush as part of the PROTECT Act of 2003.

The federal law is named after Suzanne Lyall (pictured above), a State University of New York at Albany student who has been missing since 1998.  Prior to Suzanne's Law, police were only required to report missing persons under the age of 18.  In the Lyall case, police did not begin investigating Suzanne's disappearance until nearly two days after Suzanne disappeared.  The law named after her and drafted by Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, is designed to spur immediate police investigation when college-age people disappear instead of waiting a day, which had been a common practice in these types of cases. "A lot can happen in two days. You can go to China in two days,'' said Mary.

Doug and Mary Lyall, Suzanne's parents championed the law. "I just hope that it's going to bring back some of these kids," said Mary Lyall in an Associated Press article. "They need as much protection while they're at college."

Child Quest International (CQI) is an avid supporter of Suzanne's Law.  Unfortunately, Suzanne's Law is not standard operating procedure for many law enforcement agencies across the U.S.  Due to lack of awareness by these agencies, many left-behind families are met with resistance when trying to report their adult children missing.  This has become a disappointing and frustrating roadblock in the recovery efforts for many left-behind family members.  In our ongoing effort to protect kids and reunite loved ones, CQI regularly assist 18-21 year old missing person cases because of Suzanne's Law, and we continue to educate law enforcement on the importance of the PROTECT Act of 2003.   

Doug and Mary Lyall are an inspiration to us, and we are proud to call them our friends as well as allies in the ongoing fight to protect kids and reunite loved ones.  Keeping Hope Alive!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

OJJDP 2011 Conference for Children's Justice and Safety

Child Quest International, Inc. is looking forward to networking & training opportunities at OJJDP's Conference for Children's Justice and Safety Oct 11-14, 2011 in Washington DC.

Over 2000 participants are expected at this 1st annual Washington DC conference where leading experts and researchers will address key issues and best practices in juvenile justice, delinquency prevention, and victimization.

Child Quest is honored to have been invited and looks forward to seeing our many colleagues and friends from across the country. We also look forward to making new contacts and gathering new information to help us in our mission to protect and recover children.

Find out more about the OJJDP's Conference for Children's Justice and Safety, visit

Keeping Hope Alive: Missing Teen Reunites With Family After 4 Years

VENTURA, CA -- We are ecstatic to remove Chioma Gray's picture from our website today! After 4 years, she returned home safely last night.

Chioma Gray, 19, arrived in Los Angeles on a flight from Mexico City. She was 15 years old when she was last seen getting into a car allegedly stolen by a 20-year-old man and then driven to Mexico. 

Ventura police went to Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday to bring Tafoya back to Ventura County, where he'll be booked. It's not clear what charges he will face. 

Please take a minute to see if you recognize any of the other missing children on our website.

[Source: KABC-TV/DT]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

AMBER Alert Dilemma

Houston, we have a problem.... There have been numerous issues with state specific AMBER Alert system guidelines and usage in the recent months.  Unfortunately, as good as AMBER Alert is, this has been a long standing dilemma for victims, left-behind families, and the communities it was designed to help.

Uniform guidelines & criteria are the biggest issues facing missing children with regards to the AMBER Alert program. NOT EVERY STATE follows the same criteria & guidelines vary. These very aspects themselves need to be reviewed so that the "system" has the a victims best interest in mind. We, as a community, need to petition state and federal legislation to create a NATIONWIDE AMBER Alert Program with a uniform & consistent criteria to help protect kids.

This problem is further compounded when you add in the public awareness side of the program. On the National Center For Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) "Active AMBER Alert" website, the "official" website of AMBER Alert for missing children, it only list active AMBER Alerts for 10 days.  When in fact, active alerts are still active if the child has not been recovered within those ten days.  How is this a service with the victim's best interest in mind?  It's not.  From our perspective, this is a disservice to the missing person and their family as well as the community in which these alerts serve.

Fortunately, their is a great website that is picking up the slack (in addition to Child Quest International). keeps active AMBER Alerts posted well after the 10 days that NCMEC keeps them posted.  While we continue to share information on active AMBER Alerts and all missing children, be sure to check your states AMBER plan