The Teens and Preteens Themselves
Teenangels must be between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. Recently we created Tweenangels to help preteens become involved, and they must be between the ages of seven and twelve. Teenangels and older Tweenangels can train as part of the same chapter, if that helps get a chapter going but Tweenangels do not train with the same level on Internet sexual predators. So either the Teenangels are trained less thoroughly in this area than their counterparts in other Teenangels chapters, or special arrangements are made to allow the older Tweenangels to train in these matters. Each Teenangel or Tweenangel must receive the permission of their parents or guardians to join, as well as a good standing letter from their school. (Special procedures are available for students who are home schooled.)
The Teenangels and Tweenangels must agree in writing to the Teenangels’ and Tweenangels’ code of conduct and at all times adhere to the code of conduct and rules set for Teenangels and Tweenangels. And each Teenangel or Tweenangel must commit to training at least five hundred other students each year, and delivering one special research project and joining in one group project annually. (Training includes making presentations to groups of students in schools or at community events, and is usually accomplished easily by presentations at three in school assemblies.)
Teenangels and Tweenangels is a charitable program, and satisfies most community service requirements for schools, faith based programs and scouts. The teens and preteens learn how to protect themselves and others in cyberspace at the same time they learn how to lead, communicate and help others. Our graduate Teenangels attend the leading universities in the United States, and have even interned at Parliament. They write columns for Web sites and become accomplished public speakers and researchers.
They have helped develop products and services for Disney, Microsoft and AOL, and often identify new privacy and security risks and solutions. They are trained by local or national law enforcement agencies.
Teens and preteens can become Teenangels or Tweenangels in one of two different ways: as a solo “mentored Teenangel” or as a member of a Teenangels chapter. Teenangels chapters are organized around a school, faith based organization, community group or another youth organization (such as a YMCA, scouts or camp).
Teenangels chapters work best with between fifteen and thirty-five teens. We have had chapters as small as five teens or preteens, and as large as fifty-three. Each chapter requires one Chapter Director, and either a Chapter Co-Director or an Assistant Chapter Director. It also requires two parent volunteers. All adults must become WiredSafety volunteers in order to be eligible to work with Teenangels. A police clearance letter is required from the Chapter Director.
It is preferred that at least one of the Chapter Directors is a technology educator, librarian, IT administrator or library media specialist. (The chapters that work best have two technology educators, librarians, IT administrator or library media specialists involved.)
While having Internet knowledgeable parents can be helpful, it is not necessary. The parent volunteers help arrange transportation, fundraising events and snacks. Chapter Directors have been members of law enforcement, parents and corporate volunteers, as well.
The Teenangels program, while operated within a school, youth based organization or community group, remains at all times an official program of WiredKids and the WiredSafety.org. It remains under the supervision and control of the charity, working together with the school, organization or group. And at all times the Chapter Director, Assistant or Co-Director, and any other officially appointed volunteer remains under the supervision and control of WiredKids and the WiredSafety Group and must adhere to their rules and regulations for all volunteers and Teenangels administration.
The Process of Setting up a Teenangels Chapter
When someone wants to set up a new Teenangels or Tweenangels Chapter, they fill out the Chapter Application Form, identifying the location of, any organization or school affiliation involved in the chapter, the recommended parent and leader volunteers. They inform us how many teens or preteens they believe will be involved, and receive additional information about how the Teenangels and Tweenangels operate.
Once accepted, the Teenangels Chapter Director formally joins WiredSafety.org. The Chapter Director will deliver the training to the teens and tweens. All training materials are provided. The Chapter Director will also organize the meeting place and times for the teens. They will correspond with an assigned online Teenangel Den Mother by providing updates on scheduled training, teens and tweens e-mails address changes, and contact information, etc. The Teenangel Den Mother is an online WiredSafety.org volunteer assigned to oversee chapters and coordinate the program. This volunteer acts as a liaison between the chapter and the Teenangels international administration. The Den Mother also communicates directly with the teens and preteens via e-mail and in secure chat rooms set up for Teenangels and Tweenangels.
The first session to recruit teens and preteens is scheduled. If possible, Parry Aftab or another WiredSafety.org volunteer will attend to help get things started. The training is highly interactive, and may involve guest speakers and presenters. The Teenangels and Tweenangels are trained by local or national law enforcement agencies.
Solo Mentored Teenangels
Sometimes teens are unable to recruit enough other teens to establish a chapter. And sometimes they have special issues and would prefer to train alone, rather than as part of a group. Many parents have asked that their teens be trained to help them overcome a traumatic online event or at risk situation. These are trained in a solo mentored program, allowing them privacy to help work out solutions to their traumatic online experiences.
Special Purpose Chapters
All Teenangels and Tweenangels are trained in the 4Ps (privacy, predators, pornography and piracy), as well as safe and responsible technology use. Training is done in approximately twenty, forty minute classroom periods (three are ninety minute sessions) or ten, two hour sessions (three are ninety minute sessions). They are taught to be good cybercitizens and teach others to become good cybercitizens as well.
Some chapters are developed as experts in a certain product, or issue. For example, some chapters may want to focus on AOL, or interactive gaming, or on cyberbullying or piracy. They are then called on as the national and regional experts on that topic. We do not encourage the formation of a special purpose chapter until the Teenangels or Tweenangels are fully trained in the broader issues. But when a school has been affected by a sexual predator or abduction, or by a cyberbullying incident, the school or youth organization may want to create home-grown experts quickly to help other teens, children and preteens in their community. These must be approved, in all instances, by Parry Aftab personally.
Costs of Operating and Forming a Teenangels or Tweenangels Chapter
There is no fee for creating a Teenangels or Tweenangels chapter. But there are costs of operating a chapter that must be raised or covered by the local chapter. These include Teenangels shirts, transportation, and possible attendance at the annual WiredKids Summit in Washington, D.C. and local chapter materials printing and production.
Some chapters are sponsored by a corporate sponsor; others are assisted by the school system. Many chapters raise their own funds by holding bake sales, computer repair or washing cars.
If you would like to get a Chapter started at your school or organization, please fill out and submit the Chapter Application Form. Once this has been received and reviewed, we will forward additional information to you.
We appreciate your interest in Teenangels and look forward to hearing from you.
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