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Protecting God's Children

Articles Of Interest


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America have collaborated to develop the Faith and Safety website. This website is an effort to provide parents with quick information and practical guidance on technology safety for their children through the eyes of faith.  It brings together various resources to assist parents including:
       • Facebook Safety Guide (in English and Spanish) published by Facebook
       • Reviews of popular game apps and websites
       • Guidelines to Promote Safety in the Home
       • Devices that can and should be secured
       • How to recognize and report cyber bullying
       • Online Privacy issues and protections
       • A Common Sense Media review of virtual worlds
       • Information about protecting children from pornography, strangers and predators


Instagram: Photo and Video Posting Dangers for Young People

By Robert High Farley, M.S.

Teens and tweens frequently post photos online using their cell phones. One of the most popular mobile applications (apps) for photo sharing is called Instagram. This free, online photo sharing and social network application was launched in 2010 and was acquired by Facebook in 2012.

Instagram allows members to digitally edit, upload and share photos and short videos with other members through the Instagram website, email, and other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumbler, and Flickr-all with a single click.

Instagram Dangers
Instagram states in its Terms of Use that is not for children under the age of 13. However, the age requirement can be spoofed easily by a tenacious young person falsely posting an incorrect birth year when creating an account or even later producing a fraudulent ID when confronted for proof of age by the Instagram website.

The biggest danger for young people is that the photos and videos that they are posting on Instagram are accessible to countless unintended viewers as the Instagram member accounts are automatically defaulted to the "public" viewing setting, which means the images can be viewed by anyone in the world. To modify the public viewing feature, one must manually make changes to the Instagram default privacy settings.

Once one's profile has been personalized to more private settings, anyone who wants to see the photos will need to be the user's friend or be on Instagram's approved "follower" first. To be approved, one must send the user a request and the user must approve the request.
Images that young people upload to Instagram not only default to a public viewing setting but are also "geotagged" by default. Geotagging is the process of adding geographical metadata to photos or videos. This metadata usually consists of latitude and longitude coordinates. With this imbedded data, child molesters, who are most often on the cutting edge of technology, can copy photos and can also generate Google map locations of where a young person spends most of his or her time.

Instagram recently launched "photo tagging," which is one of the powerful social networking features that fueled Facebook's early growth. This feature allows a user to "tag" or highlight any person in a photo, which then automatically appears in the "Photos Of You" section of one's profile. Unfortunately, even if one is proactive and changes a young person's Instagram settings to "private" and disables the geo-location feature, there are still dangers. For example, if a young person's friends have not changed their profile default settings, the photos they upload and have tagged still have the same danger of a non-approved friend viewing them or mapping and tracking a young person's activities.

One should also be aware that when a young person upgrades his or her phone's operating system software, the settings that one previously set for privacy with the geo-location disabled will automatically revert back to the default public viewing and geo-location enabled.

Additionally, on December 17, 2012, Instagram updated its Terms of Service, granting itself the right to sell users' photos to third parties without notification or compensation starting on January 16, 2013. An outpouring of criticism from privacy advocates prompted Instagram to issue a statement retracting the controversial terms. The issue caused Instagram to lose a portion of its user-base as former users switched to other photo sharing applications such as Flickr or Snapfish. Even though Instagram retracted the policy, the dangers of posting on Instagram or other social media sites were emphasized by the incident.

As technology continues to change rapidly, all of us charged with protecting children must continue our efforts to stay abreast of the many new programs and applications that may be used by child abusers to manipulate and exploit children.


Program Requirements

In order to ensure the safety of all young people, the Diocese of Joliet has adopted the Protecting God's Children program. Every diocesan, parish, school or religious education employee/volunteer who has contact with children is required to participate. The three hour session will empower adults and parents with new tools to help them protect children

St. Raphael
Every volunteer (over the age of 17) who works with children, in any capacity and for any length of time, must attend a session of Protecting God's Children and must complete a criminal background check. In addition, prior to registering for Youth Faith Formation, one parent from each family is required to attend a PGC session.  

Contact the parish office at (630) 355-4545 for any questions and information about Protecting God's Children. 



The following session(s) have been scheduled at St. Raphael for your convenience: 
  None scheduled at the present time - please see the diocesean website for local sessions.

All sessions are 2 1/2 hours.


To register for any of these sessions, please follow these instructions:
  • Go to Virtus Online .
  • Select "Begin the registration process."
  • When prompted to select your organization, select "Joliet, IL (Diocese)" from the drop-down list and click "Select".
  • The system will continue to prompt you for additional information.  You will then be shown the list of available sessions and be allowed to register for the session of your choice.
If you cannot attend one the sessions held at St. Raphael click here to find a day and time at another location within the Joliet Diocese.

Abuse Resources & Contact Numbers

Department of Children and Family Services:1-800-252-2873
Victims Assistance Minister:  815-263-6467