Don’t Count on Technology!!!!

If you are concerned about the things your children see on the Internet and want to try and protect them from it, don’t count on technology to do it for you.  I work at a children’s home that uses the most current filtering software to try and protect our children from the bad influences of the Internet.  I found out today how easy it is to defeat.

You would think that since I work with the Internet everyday that I would know about these things, but I had never heard of tunnel proxies until today.  Tunnel proxies are what our children use to access blocked sites such myspace.com, penthouse.com, and all the other sites that our filtering software is supposed to block.  Type in “unblock myspace” or “tunnel proxy” in a search engine and you will get listing after listing of different sites that offer a free tunnel proxy to allow your children to access material you thought was being blocked by your filtering software.

Using several of these proxies I was able to view several of the sites that our filtering software was supposed to be blocking.  Just so you know, we use top of the line filtering software installed on our server and updated daily.  I am sure there are other programs that can be used to stop these proxies but I am also sure it will just continue to be a tit for tat game of cat and mouse that will continued to played with us putting up blocks and somebody else writing software to defeat it.

So the realization that I came to today as did our administrators is that protecting our children from the Internet comes down to good parenting skills; you can’t rely on technology to do it for you. 

So what can you do?

  1. Be clear with your children and explain to them your expectations and under what conditions they will be allowed to continue to use the computer. 
  2. Keep the computers in the public parts of the house.  Children are less likely to view offensive material if they have to do it in a public place.
  3. Do not be a afraid to look over their shoulder when they are viewing the internet.  Accountability goes a long ways in helping somebody make good choices.  If they suddenly close the browser as you approach, don’t be afraid to look at the history and see what they were viewing.  There are also programs that run in the background that can record sites viewed and everything typed by the user.
  4. If your child continues to view inappropriate material don’t be afraid to block them from the computer.  There are several good programs that can be used to limit access to the computer and internet.  At the facility I work at we use “Computer Time” and I highly recommend it. 
  5. Don’t bury your head in the sand and think your children are immune from the garbage on the internet, turns out every kid on campus over the age for 13 knew how to do this.  Be proactive, and most of all spend time with them, get to know them, and know what they are doing (have a relationship with them).
  6. Continue to use filtering software, it still works great for protecting younger children from the perils of the internet.

I believe these measures can be effective  whether you are a birth parent trying to limit the offensive material your children have access to are a houseparent trying to do the same for the children in your care.

Cottage In Texas

This is a picture of a boys cottage in Texas.  It is at the second facility we worked at and is by far the largest cottage we have lived in.  Including the private houseparents’ apartment in the back, relief staff and guest quarters and rooms for 10 boys, I would guess it to be at about 6500 square feet.

I am sure there are larger cottages out there, but I haven’t lived in one larger.  If the cottage I worked in now was built like this one, I probably would sell my house.

Boys Cottage In Texas

Question #14 – 1/16/2007 How do we find out about a family member that was in an Orphanage?

 Hello Mike,
My grandmother, along with her 3 sisters and one brother, lived in a children’s home in Arkansas in the mid 1920’s (maybe 1926 to 1932). I wanted to know if the building where she lived was still around or if I could find more information about that place. I live in CA and would love to travel there. Do you have any ideas? Thank you Marcia.

Unfortunately, many of the facilities that existed in the 1920s no longer exist.  They either closed or were absorbed by other facilities.  However, even if the facility still exists, it may have very little information that would be helpful to you.  I work at a facility that has been open since 1895.  The only building we have that is older than 40 years is our original building, designated a historical landmark and with several remodels over the years it looks nothing like it did in the 20s or even 60s.  All the living areas are now offices. 

As far as records go, our history for the first 50 plus years of existence is recorded in one loose leaf book.  We didn’t start keeping extensive records until the 1980s.  We have more pictures from the last year than from the first 50 plus years, so there is not a great deal of information available.

If you know the name and location of the facility you can try doing a search on your favorite search engine. (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.).  You may be able to find contact information for it that way.  If that doesn’t work, you can try contacting the local chamber of commerce or historical society and see if they might have information about the orphanage. Chances are if it still exists, it has also changed names.  We changed our name from orphanage to children’s home in the 1980s, so you may have to do some serious detective work.  If the facility still exists you should be able to find something, if not, there won’t be much to find.

If anybody has any other ideas or you would like to add something, just register and add your comments.
If you would like to ask your own question CLICK HERE to go the submission form.

Question #13 – 1/9/2007 How do we go about Starting a New Facility?

Do you have some resources for informing us how to go about becoming a privately funded children’s home? Especially dealing with siblings? My heart is overwhelmed with the need to keep children together to grow in an family environment . What are the possibilities of Gov. grants, and do we have to file non-profit first and than pursue the vision of a group home? Any direction would be greatly appreciated
Thanks freedom

You should start by contacting your local government agency responsible for licensing residential facilities.  They are usually the same people that license Foster Homes.  They will be able to provide you with all the regulations and requirements for your state.  Each state has different regulations for licensing facilities.I would next contact other facilities that are located in your state.  Many are willing to share information and give a newcomer a leg up.  I know of a facility in Georgia called Eagle Ranch that has a program for people wanting to start a new facility called the “Wings Initiative.”  You can check out their website at www.eagleranch.org.Lastly you may want to hire a consultant.  There are several: two that I am familiar with are Charles D. Appelstein and James R. Harris, Jr., 

If anybody has any other ideas or you would like to add something, just register and add your comments.
If you would like to ask your own question CLICK HERE to go the submission form.

Question #12 – 1/9/2007 Where do I find Statistics on Orphans, Foster Care and Abused Children?

I am looking for statistics on how many orphans are currently living in VA, how many children were victims of abuse in 2006 under the age of 18, how many children under 18 are currently living in foster homes in Virginia. I am trying to build statistics to present to VA Rep. to show that we need more help/funding with children in VA.
Thanks!  rlw

Finding statistics for 2006 will be near impossible, there is usually a two or three year lag in compiling those statistics.  The government provides a very good site for getting statistics at the Administration for Children & Families.  They provide statistics from three reporting systems: Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS).

Click Here for the Administration for Children & Families Statistics Page

There are tons of statistics and other information.  You could spend days exploring the site and only view a fraction of the information it has.  Most information is available back to 1998, before that data was collected sporadically. Like I said above statistics are usually not available until two or three years after it is collected.

The only problem I have with the site and I have had it with three different computer systems is that I CANNOT view the site using Internet Explorer.  I have to use Firefox to view the Administration for Children & Families website.  The only thing I can figure is there is a conflict created by my virus software or one of my browser toolbars that blocks the site.  If you are getting an error page that says the page can’t be displayed, try downloading the Firefox browser and using it.

UPDATE:  I found out what was causing the conflict.  It was my Alexa Toolbar.  I removed it from my machine and I am suddenly able to access the AFCARS website.  I have another machine that still has the toolbar and it still doesn’t work.

If anybody has any other ideas or you would like to add something, just register and add your comments.
If you would like to ask your own question CLICK HERE to go the submission form.