Youth Leadership Pathway

MD503 – Online Safety



Social media is a non-negotiable aspect of youth ministry for today. How can we protect both leaders and young people as we use technology to connect?


Father in Heaven, we pray for more solutions to protect children and young people from accessing inappropriate and harmful online material. Please help us to protect the vulnerable and be wise in the way we engage with young people online. Amen.


Whilst most people agree that there are many benefits of the online world, it can come with risks. The Safeguarding Office of Archdiocese of Perth states:

“Now more than ever our use of the internet has huge social and legal implications. We may think that we are in control of our internet use and safety, privacy concerns or harm can still occur from either people you know – in the form of cyber abuse, cyberstalking or revenge porn, or from people you don’t – such as identity theft. Blogging, social networking, online gaming and online dating are all areas to stop and consider.”

Every member of the Church has a distinct role to play on the internet. Pope Francis is calling us to “boldly become citizens of the digital world”, with the image of the Good Samaritan as our inspiration. We are called not only to love our neighbour, but to bring the love of God to the new global neighbourhood.

According to the Australian Government – Australian Institute of Family Studies:

44% of children aged 9 – 16 had encountered sexual images in the recent months

Online safety isn’t just around external threats, such as pornography or identity theft however. As youth ministers, we also need to be wise in the way we engage with our young people online.

CYM’s “Guidelines for Working with Young People” is a practical resource that will help outline how to safely engage with young people online. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Do not send a friend/follow request to any young people under 18 in your ministry.
  • Do not private message any young people under 18 in your ministry. If you need to get in touch with them, either go through their parents (preferred) or be in a group chat with at least one other age 18+ youth leader from your ministry.
  • Do not engage privately with young people on social media platforms, particularly platforms such as Snapchat, where records of images or messages are designed to disappear – extremely dangerous for both the young person and the youth leader.

View the full list in the “Guidelines for Working with Young People” resource.


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