The challenges facing our nation as we address the coronavirus pandemic have many of us switching gears and adapting to a different way of life. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is rising to meet those challenges and stands ready to assist your family during this difficult time.
Our Community Outreach and Education team travels statewide and speaks to thousands of Arizonans every year. Right now, instead of visiting schools and meeting with groups in their community, our team has adapted to meet the majority of Arizonans where they are today: at home.
I am pleased to announce that all of our community education programs are available virtually and online for the public.
Parents, students, and teachers now have the option to schedule a live interactive webinar with a member of our team or to view recorded versions of the educational presentations. Topics include internet safety, anti-bullying, consumer guide for young adults and parents, suicide prevention, opioid awareness and prevention, vaping, and much more.
The statewide stay at home order has encouraged many of us, including our children, to spend more time online using social media. Unfortunately, this is also true for criminals and predators that use the internet to exploit children and take advantage of the vulnerable. While parents and educators are working diligently to facilitate virtual learning opportunities, often balancing working from home themselves, predators are using their time at home to build relationships with children over social media and gaming systems. The FBI recently announced that due to the unprecedented rise in online activity, youth face a higher risk of being targeted by online predators.
Now more than ever, it’s imperative to remain vigilant in monitoring your child’s internet use.
TikTok, for example, is a widely-used social media app for lip-sync and dance videos. It has become more popular since many of us have been staying at home. The app allows users to record and publicly share videos of themselves, creating opportunities for predators to gather information about potential victims and commence the grooming process. Fortunately, there are steps families can take to minimize their chances of crossing paths with online predators. The Online Safety curriculum for K-12, one of our most popular programs, includes information on cyber predators, cyber-bullying, and other helpful online safety tips.
Our office also provides presentations and materials surrounding suicide prevention.
Statistics show that suicide rates are often highest in the spring, and this year may be worse as people are feeling increased stress, anxiety, helplessness, and isolation due to the coronavirus. This is a critical time to focus on the mental and physical health of every member of our family. Balance the time spent accessing social media and the news with positive and healthy exercise. It is important to connect with loved ones, talk about how we are feeling and enjoy conversations unrelated to the virus. Our Suicide Awareness Presentation provides more tips and resources to help youth and adults navigate this challenging time.
E-Cigarette awareness and prevention is another popular presentation.
E-Cigarette use among youth has been declared an epidemic and anxiety over the pandemic is leading many people to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking and vaping. Because the coronavirus attacks the lungs, smokers and vapers may be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. It is crucial that we educate our youth about the extra dangers that come along with vaping.
To view a recorded presentation or schedule a webinar presentation, visit our website at azag.gov/outreach/webinars.
Please keep yourselves and your families safe. We will get through this difficult time together.
Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General