These Internet/website guidelines relate to all Girl Scout troops, groups, and service units that have websites, blogs, or social media accounts (Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, et al) for the primary use of communicating troop activities to troop members and their families and service unit team members. While all of these communication tools can provide valuable information to Girl Scout audiences, they can also be a source of danger if information is posted indiscriminately. There are occasions that seemingly innocent details identifying girls and places they go, have been included in these different formats without the understanding that these identifiers are just what cyberstalkers who prey on children are looking for.
The following guidelines regarding personal identification on Girl Scout websites, blogs, and social media accounts must be established and maintained to ensure the safety of girls/troops on the Internet:
- Use only first names of girls
- Never use pictures of individual girls if they are identified in any way, even by first name only
- Never post addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses of girls
- Don’t list addresses of troop meeting places or the dates and times of the meetings
- Never respond to email messages received that are hostile, belligerent, or inappropriate
In addition, the following six steps for creating safe websites, blogs and social media accounts should be used in order to protect the safety of your girls in cyberspace:
Step 1 — Complete the Online Safety Pledge with each girl and her parent/guardian (on the back side of this form). Child and teen safety tips are also available at Safe Kids Online (www.safekids.com). Additionally, OnGuardOnline, a resource website managed by the federal government has a mini site dedicated to help parents manage the children’s online safety. http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/net-cetera-introduction.aspx
Step 2 — Carefully choose a website hosting service provider and social media accounts. Many sites that provide free hosting and accounts also contain advertising. The ads are often colorful and contain animation that attracts girls’ attention. Can you be sure that the ads are always appropriate?
Step 3 — Think carefully about how you want to represent your troop and Girl Scouting. Websites, blogs and social media accounts are read by people all over the world. Be mindful of the above listing regarding personal identification of girls. Girls should never post personal information about themselves or family members.
Step 4 — When writing the text and creating graphics for your web pages, read and follow the rules in Use of the Girl Scout Service Mark & Girl Scout Terminology (#1477) about the proper usage of Girl Scout symbols.
Step 5 — Any hyperlinks you create between your site and other sites should be done very carefully. Ask and receive permission to create a link between your website and another site. Periodically recheck the appropriateness of the link as well as for broken links.
Step 6 — Don’t forget to let Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council know about your troop’s website. If you choose to, you may link to our site or vice versa once permission is received and granted for a hyperlink.