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How Thorn Empowers Parents & Youth to Prevent Abuse

April 15, 2024

5 Minute Read

Our connected world has transformed what it means to be a child and a parent today.

Young people grow up with phones in their hands and — depending on their ages — near-constant access to social networking, messaging, and gaming platforms. Building connections and community online is a healthy part of their development — but this increased use of tech also leads to increased risk. 

At the same time, we know that having conversations with kids about online safety, including topics like sharing nude selfies, can be awkward and difficult for parents and caregivers.

Still, these conversations are powerful in preventing abuse.

That’s why Thorn created Thorn for Parents and our youth-centered program NoFiltr. The two initiatives help spark these conversations, empowering parents and youth with the tools and resources to navigate digital safety and create a culture of trust and communication.

Fostering these vital conversations — early and often — makes a big difference in keeping kids safe online.


The New Digital Age and Its Challenges

Today, children’s relationships with technology overlap with their normal sexual development, bringing a whole new set of experiences online.

This mixing of sexual exploration and technology can lead to healthy experiences. But the intersection also brings risks from bad actors — who take advantage of kids’ curiosities — and from other children, who might bully, pressure or intensify harm.

Thorn’s research shows 1 in 7 minors has been asked for nude images by a stranger online daily or weekly. And 1 in 6 minors have shared their own self-generated sexual content. 

Online grooming pressures children into these activities, but youth also increasingly see sexting or sharing “nudes” as normal behavior. 

Parents often have misconceptions about the ages at which children are sharing nudes. Many also lack confidence in speaking with their child about these topics. Thorn found fewer than 1 in 3 parents have talked to their children about SG-CSAM (self-generated child sexual abuse material, or “nude selfies”). 

Yet, avoiding the topics leaves kids unsure how to navigate unsafe situations when they do arise. 


Thorn for Parents: Equipping Parents for Critical Conversations

Enter Thorn for Parents — our resource hub flush with tools and tips that equip parents and caregivers to have open, judgment-free conversations with kids about digital safety. 

Creating an atmosphere of trust, free of judgment, builds a child’s knowledge of the topic. It also fosters honest dialogues that can shed light into their online experiences.

These conversations make youth more willing to tell parents and caregivers when issues come up — opening the door for parents to engage in prevention strategies. 


NoFiltr: Youth Empowerment Against Online Threats

That said, sometimes in kids’ minds, parents just. don’t. get. it. And that’s why Thorn developed NoFiltr, our highly engaged youth-centered program.

NoFiltr aims to raise awareness among youth about the risks of sharing nudes online, change toxic attitudes that shame victims, and provide knowledge and tools youth need to resist online threats.

In this community of their peers, NoFiltr members speak freely about their experiences online and their thoughts on digital safety. 

The candid conversations break down societal attitudes that shame victims of online abuse. Instead, NoFiltr members feel empowered to build a culture of awareness and participate in creating safer and more inclusive online spaces for all.

Practical Tools and Knowledge for Online Safety

Thorn for Parents and NoFiltr feature practical resources that parents and youth can use in their daily lives to navigate online risks.

Thorn for Parents offers conversation starters, tailored for various age brackets, giving parents questions to jumpstart talks. There’s also advice on privacy settings, and how to recognize grooming behaviors and sextortion attempts.

NoFiltr tackles these same topics through content often created by the youth. The Resource Hub delivers real talk on everything from healthy online relationships to seeking help if a child suspects harm. 

A key pillar of NoFiltr is its Youth Innovation Council, which brings together teens to elevate their voices on issues that directly affect them.


Stories of Success

“NoFiltr was such a transformative experience for me! It’s unique in that it empowers youth to advocate for digital safety, an issue that so often impacts youth the most. I’m so grateful for the networking, professional development, and internet safety education I got.”

— NoFiltr youth member

In 2022 alone, NoFiltr facilitated 55,000 conversations with youth about preventing sexual abuse. Meanwhile, 5,554 parents signed up for conversation tips through Thorn for Parents. Evidence of the desire and need for awareness.

Building their knowledge and resilience helps parents and young people prevent harmful sexual encounters — before they happen.

Thorn also helps raise their voices among the tech industry, facilitating workshops with youth and tech companies to build understanding of youths’ real-life experiences on their platforms. 

Last year, NoFiltr’s Youth Innovation Council partnered with Discord to connect with millions of young people to discuss how to stay safe online and develop healthy digital habits.


Ready to join us?

At Thorn, we know navigating digital safety is daunting. But Thorn for Parents and NoFiltr are here to help. We invite you to learn more about these programs and how you can join us in preventing child sexual abuse.

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