Awino began to make many new friends online, and some began asking to meet her. One of them, Chris, even promised her a trip to the beach during the school holiday. He seemed like a very nice person. Awino excitedly shared the news with one of the youth club leaders, Pauline. Awino was surprised at her shocked reaction. Pauline asked her to block Chris immediately from her social media. She told her stories of many other young women who had been deceived by online acquaintances and gave her newspaper clippings with similar stories. Awino was confused and troubled. She had shared much of her life with Chris, who was very understanding. She felt unsafe and afraid.

There is an increasing awareness that young women can come to harm through their online activity and innocent interaction with strangers. This could be sexual, financial or bullying. What can start as a scam, or innocent new relationships can quickly accelerate. 

As technology changes often, we can never think we know enough. Many online safety programs are available, which would be invaluable for you as a youth worker and your colleagues. We should encourage each other to keep updated as new risks and scams emerge. Take a look for example at These programs would also help you speak to young people in such a way that you can help them understand online safety and help them feel secure. It is also important that the young people attend these courses and are put in touch with experts who can guide them in this space.

Reflection Questions

  1. Would you have dealt with Awino’s revelation matter in the same way as Pauline?
  2. Do you have any training in digital safety? Does Awino’s story help encourage you to consider receiving some?
  3. Do I know how safe the youth I work with are online?
  4. Have I spoken to them about online safety?  Do I know the relationships they develop online?
  5. How would I prepare and encourage young people to attend an online safety course?

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