Keeping students safe during remote learning

September 22, 2020

young female student raising hand during online class 

For many students around the world, the return to school this fall looks very different with masks and social-distancing measures and many schools opting for remote learning. While remote learning can help keep students safe from exposure to the COVID-19 virus, it does pose other potential safety issues and an increased risk for online sexual exploitation and trafficking. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline has experienced a 90% increase in the number of reports for online child sexual exploitation during the first six months of 2020 as compared to the same time period in 2019. ECPAT-USA, the leading anti-child trafficking organization in the U.S., has developed a set of online safety guides for youth, parents, and educators to understand the risks and strategies for keeping children safe online. Mercy Investment Services, along with several ICCR members, is engaging technology and communication companies like Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook, and Verizon on monitoring and other safety protocols that can be implemented to protect children from exploitation. Online sexual exploitation is one aspect of engagements with technology companies. Mercy is also discussing privacy issues and data use, including facial recognition, with Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook.