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keeping children safe

First let me say I am not a schoolteacher but I have some concerns about children's safety as I am sure you do. This post has been prompted by an event yesterday evening when a young child, obviously very excited at the prospect of learning here on Duolingo, posted an innocent note giving out a dangerously detailed account of the school they attended, their teacher's name and even her state of health.

I contacted moderators to alert them to the situation which was getting worse because an adult had asked where the child came from and received a reply.

Whilst waiting for a moderator to see my messages I also wrote to the child advising them about the inadvisability of sharing so much identifiable detail and telling them to stay safe by not giving out any more details.

Happily, the post has been deleted and I know a moderator has spoken to the child concerned giving them further advice and encouragement to stay safe on line.

I do hope that none of you take this the wrong way, I am not trying to teach you your jobs and I'm sure you already give online safety advice to your pupils but in the light of last night's incident, you may wish to reinforce the message again.

My apologies for the length of this post but I felt you would want to know that some children, presumably despite guidance, are still dangerously innocent.

Thank you for your time, if you have read this far and good luck in your new school year.

September 1, 2015



I hope that educators with younger students will go over internet safety with their students if they plan to utilize the internet as part of the curriculum. Thanks for posting this!


Thanks Usagi, I'm sure that it is routine for educators to give this sort of advice but sometimes as you say, it needs reinforcing.

I'm glad you approve of me posting this as I was a little wary of sounding as if I was trying to tell people how to do their jobs but on balance decided that child safety was more important than risking flack from irate teachers. Apart from anything else I assumed they would appreciate the reason for the post even if they thought I was unqualified to comment.

Your support means a lot to me, so thanks again for that and thanks also for your work dealing with this sort of thing among others, you do an invaluable job.


Downvoted already ! ... 10 minutes ago this had 5 upvotes, it now has 4 .... what kind of person disapproves of keeping children safe? I am sure it won't have been an educator, even if they felt I had no authority to speak on teaching matters, which only leaves the unsavoury option of someone who wants to leave the youngsters vulnerable for some other reason I'd sooner not speculate upon. ...... I despair!

[deactivated user]

    Spammer trolls, ignore them.


    You're right of course but this is really sick!

    [deactivated user]

      That's their job, ignore them. It's just one vote, at least it's not ten!


      Very true and wise advice, :-)

      [deactivated user]

        Agreed. Duolingo is a great website, and if we want to keep it "healthy", we also need to keep it safe. There are a few "child predators" out there, so they need to have some internet safety. Hopefully sooner on, there won't be any posts that show personal information. :)


        Thanks for your support Joy,

        I do worry about the fact that children don't seem to realise that a bit of information here and another bit there and so on can add up to enough detail to identify them.

        It is a difficult situation because explaining the dangers without either scaring them to death or, alternatively making them think you're exaggerating and therefore ignoring the advice is a delicate line to tread. I really sympathise with the teacher's position they do not have an easy task at all.

        [deactivated user]


          Teachers have the option to prevent students from using the forums. There are also many children on Duo that are using it on their own and not as part of a school program. It's interesting that no teachers have responded.


          Hi Elizabeth,

          I'm one of the (probably many) teachers who didn't respond to this post. Really, I didn't see a need. No question was asked. No controversial points were raised. I just read it and thought quietly to myself "Hey look, someone who doesn't work with children who understands that there are potential safety concerns. Excellent." I gave the post an upvote and went on to something else.

          I'm curious to know what part of this post you thought required a response from teachers. If you'll let me know, I'll be happy to oblige. :-)


          Thank you for your upvote and positive comments Kismet. I was a bit wary of sounding as if I was trying to tell you your job (which I most certainly was not) so, it's good to know that you understood my motives.

          I also think that you might be pleasantly surprised at how many people who don't work with children are concerned for their safety here. I have had quite a few personal messages from people equally concerned yet not connected with children, in fact it has been heartwarming to realise how many people do care.

          I do not envy you your task of safeguarding children in today's world, it is impossible to cover all avenues but I wish you every success with your difficult job. :-))


          I've been trying to look out for the kids also, so I'm not surprised at all.


          It's obvious that you care otherwise you would never had read a post with this title in the first place (just read that and I'm not sure if the intended compliment to your caring nature comes across in writing, so just to let you know, that's how it's meant :-)) ).... and I'm sure you're right not to be surprised and in a way, neither was I but it's the number of people like yourself who are actively looking out for children's safety that has impressed me. I wouldn't have been surprised at people caring if they noticed but actually bothering to think about it at all times is another matter, don't you agree ... more that people don't think, than don't care?


          Thank you, but I was just more curious than anything else since this is in the educators forum. p.s. I like your user name. That's one of my favorite words.


          Thank you for your message. I agree with your comments about forum blocking, let us just hope that is widely used for the youngest ones when they are in school. As for the ones using Duo indipendently, there is not much anyone can do except keep repeating the safety advice and being vigilant.

          I too find it strange in a way that no teachers have responded but on the other hand this is one of their busiest times of the year, so they may not have time to write responses. The important thing is whether or not it is being read and given the number of upvotes compared to responses, some people are obviously reading and agreeing but not responding. I hope some of those people will have been teachers.


          I work with students, they are all in Uni though. ;)


          It would be nice to think that by the time you see your students they are already internet savvy but if not, they have the perfect mentor :-))


          You have well done, really.


          Thanks for your support also. I think this is a problem that concerns us all and I am sure any responsible adult who had seen the post before me would have done exactly the same. Nevertheless I really appreciate your comment.


          That could have ended badly if nobody helped!


          Indeed but as long as we all stay vigilant and act immediately we see children at risk we can keep the danger to the minimum possible. I can tell from your comment that you will be one of those watching out for the safety of our youngsters, so you will also be helping. :-)


          thanks for posting this. I gives parents, students, or even other people out there a reminder. thanks for posting this :)


          thanks..very much..i got the advice..by the way im a child to,but what if someone searches u and they get your adress and everything and the come to your house and do something dangerous.im sorry,but i just want to stay safe


          please answer me..thank u


          If you make sure that you don't put any personal information on the internet, for example, your name, address, age or school you should be safe. Every time you are going to write about something that has happened either to you or somebody that you know, ask yourself "could somebody use this to identify me" , if the answer is yes ..... DON'T write it! If you aren't sure, ask your parents or teachers what they think, they are there to help you to keep safe.

          If ANYONE asks you for personal information, DON'T give it to them and if it is someone you don't know in real life already, tell your parents and teachers AT ONCE!

          Remember that not everyone on the internet is what they say they are ..... for example, you say you are a child but you could be a forty year adult for all I know, there is no way of knowing, so, the golden rules are:

          Don't give out any personal information.

          Don't write anything which could identify you

          Don't just accept that someone is what they say say they are.

          Do tell your parents and teachers if you have any doubts or concerns.

          If you follow those golden rules, you cannot be traced and you will be SAFE!

          Don't worry and have fun.


          Duolingo has now been blacklisted from New Hampshire schools due to noncompliance. We are no longer allowed to use it, and I will be held liable if we do.

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