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Care Mental Health

Each year the World Health Organization celebrates World Mental Health Day with the objective
to raise awareness about the necessity of mental health. It also focuses on ways that care can
be given to people around the world

Mental Health and COVID

Mental health is an even bigger issue this year since the world is dealing with the lasting
impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, there
are some people who may be really struggling such as frontline medical workers, teachers,
those with pre-existing health conditions, those that have lost love ones, and those that are
dealing with COVID related disability. Still, others may have had a disruption in their mental
health care.

The silver lining is that governments and societies around the world are finally recognizing the
need to improve mental health services, and some countries “have found new ways of providing
mental health care to their populations.”

Dignity in Mental Health

WHO decided the theme for 2021’s World Mental Health Day is “Dignity in mental health.” Their
goal is to raise awareness of how certain mental health conditions can lead to discrimination,
marginalization, or even abuse. Another issue they hope to tackle is the lack of mental health
professionals in many areas of the world as well as the lack of quality care due to facilities that
are subpar.

Everyone deserves dignity, and WHO is looking to governments to enact policy that is human
rights-oriented and that prioritizes mental health treatment. They are pushing for proper training
of mental health professionals and informed consent policies.

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The Importance of Community Involvement in Keeping Our Children Safe

“It takes a village to raise a child,” the National Education Association says. “The whole community has an essential role to play in the growth and development of its young people.”

Just like parents and family members have an essential role in a child’s life, the community also plays an all-important role in the safety and well-being of children. According to Lakia M. Scott, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Baylor University’s School of Education, children who are the most at-risk of being trafficked lack access to education, are homeless, grow up in lower socioeconomic backgrounds, or come from single-parent households. 

Parent Education Programs

Parent education programs advocate positive parenting practices that help reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. They also promote permanency, well-being, and safety for children and their families. Excellent parent education programs will have the following objectives:

  • To help parents learn where they can get support from within the community by outlining available services.
  • To teach parents how to develop and practice positive discipline techniques.
  • To promote positive interaction between parents and children.
  • To teach parents the various child development milestones that should be expected based on age and ability.

Parent education programs are a core prevention service that a community can provide to decrease the risk of child maltreatment. Better educated parents can help build healthier families and communities. 

Teaching Children: ‘Who Is Safe’

Teaching children which adults in their community are safe should start at home. However, the community should offer support in this endeavor. 

Teaching children about the possible dangers they may face can be a double-edged sword — it alerts them to potential safety hazards. Still, it may dampen their curiosity to explore the world. 

According to the National Center of Missing & Exploited Children, it is more important to help children build self-confidence and self-esteem so that they can feel empowered to keep themselves away from potentially dangerous situations.

Community talks with parents and children should be age-appropriate when discussing “what if” scenarios. However, these discussions should start at a young age, and the content can then be adjusted as the children get older. 

The following are strategies that can be employed with kids of different ages: 

Preschoolers

Children younger than five are naturally curious and more focused on themselves. They can be more easily fooled by adults. 

Preschoolers should be taught basic information about their names and addresses. By using role-playing games, they can be taught about expected behaviors.

Elementary Children

Young children, elementary-aged, naturally want to be cooperative and please adults; this makes them easier to manipulate. Teaching basic safety rules is best done through repetition, role-playing games, and by offering concrete examples. 

Tweens and Teens

As children age into young adulthood, they become better judges of potentially dangerous situations. They must go into this stage with a solid foundation as they are more likely to be left without adult supervision and are also more heavily influenced by their peers. 

No matter their age, it is crucial to open up the lines of communication between children and the safe adults in their lives. 

Keeping the Community Aware of Human Trafficking Risks

The more people aware of human trafficking, the safer a community will become. Every community should have at least one active anti-trafficking resource within its midst. 

The local library is often an excellent source for resources to help educate parents and children. Multiple training events are held each year by various groups advocating for the safety of children. 

It is also essential that communities elect leaders who make the needed policy changes to end child trafficking and abuse. It takes everyone in the community to keep its children safe.

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The Importance and Meaning of Child Safety

Children in every nation of the world have the right to feel safe in their homes, schools, and communities. Yet, millions of the planet’s kids go unprotected on a daily basis. They face discrimination, exploitation, neglect, and abuse. 

Being left so vulnerable is detrimental to their entire lives. Children who aren’t safe are less likely to pursue their dreams or develop to their full potential.

For any child, the first line of defense is the family. Parents, grandparents, and other caregivers are the ones initially responsible for creating a protective environment. Later in life, this responsibility also falls upon daycare centers, schools, and the community as a whole. 

A community that is dedicated to the health and safety of our children will always offer

  • respect
  • active listening
  • consideration
  • assessment of concerns
  • safe and loving spaces
  • accessibility for those differently-abled
  • inclusiveness

The Facts About Safety

The goal of this article isn’t to scare you with a bunch of frightening statistics, but half of the battle is in knowing what you are up against. It is essential to understand the risks so that you can adequately prepare yourself and your children to face them.

Child trafficking affects more than 1 million children per year, and more than 200 million are sexually abused or exploited. About 22% of children around the world will receive some sort of physical punishment at home. 

But willful violence against children is not the only danger that lurks. Kids are especially vulnerable to accidents. Each year, about 1 million children die due to accidental injuries, and it is one of the leading causes of death for children in the U.S.

Children are also particularly vulnerable to receiving grievous injury or death in a car crash — especially when not properly restrained in an age-appropriate safety harness. Playing sports without the proper equipment can also result in serious injury for kids. Plus, upwards of 3,000 children are treated for injuries due to falls out of a window each year.

What Can Parents Do?

Luckily, there are ways to keep our children safe from the dangers listed above. However, to truly protect all the children, it will take strong community involvement as well as parental vigilance.

Big picture things that can help expand the safety net for our children include voting for lawmakers that understand the importance of child safety and who support legislation that will put an end to child trafficking and exploitation. Supporting community groups and initiatives like AllianceOne is another way to protect kids.

On a smaller scale, parents should teach their children the difference between a safe adult and one who is not — where they should go to seek help and who they can trust. Children should also be taught basic safety precautions such as staying away from the medicine cabinet, wearing proper gear when participating in sports, and practicing good water safety at the pool. 

Please don’t feel like you have to go it alone; there are a plethora of resources available to help parents and kids navigate the world so that everyone can live a safe and happy life.

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Linking tech to humanity: Hyprcubd integrates collaboration among IoT community

Editor’s note: This article is underwritten by Plexpod — a progressive coworking platform offering next generation workspace for entrepreneurs, startups, and growth-stage companies of all sizes — but was independently produced by Startland News.

Building a company that solves real-world problems for tech founders isn’t easy — but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, Jess Phillips said. 

“It can be daunting, expensive and overwhelming to say the least,” Phillips, co-founder and CEO of Hyprcubd, said of the Internet of Things platform — designed to make it easy and affordable for fellow founders in the IoT space to bring their devices to the cloud as fast as possible.

The Liberty-based company also offers them assistance with connectivity, device management, and data management, she said.

“The industry is difficult to navigate. It’s difficult to know where to start, to piece together everything needed from the backend, to make sure the device talks to the app, to ensure the infrastructure is efficient and to decide what services to use,” Phillips said, offering a glimpse at what can become a “nightmare” scenario for founders. 

“With a company such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), they have more than 175 products to sift through and services to sort out. It is difficult to know how to choose the right one. That takes time. How do you know what to choose? How do you connect them together? What are my costs going to be? All of these are unknowns,” she detailed. 

With Hyprcubd, a variety of data from sensors and devices is combined in real time, stored, analyzed, and visualized in such a way even the most tech-novice business leader can understand it and use it to make informed decisions nearly immediately, Phillips said. 

“These issues were the things I wanted to know. I wanted to solve them — and once I did, I wanted to provide this solution for other founders, inventors, and entrepreneurs.” 

That platform can be set up in roughly 15 minutes and costs companies $10 per device — a massive savings for young companies especially, Phillips said. 

The company was born serendipitously in 2018 when a project Phillips had been working on collided with one led by her husband and co-founder, Nick Phillips. 

“It grew from two people who had two issues. Nick was working for a large company and he kept running into the same problems at work and, of course, they wanted to throw money at it and engineers at it. He said, ‘You know, I can fix this,’” she recalled, adding she was at home listening to her husband’s problem while working as a psychotherapist. 

“I said, ‘Do I take the route of fixing it?’ as a wife and say, ‘This is what you should do, honey,’ or do I take the route as a psychotherapist and analyze it and tell him what he should do? Either way it wasn’t a win-win.”

Ultimately, Phillips decided to give her husband a friendly and motivational nudge in the direction of tackling the issue himself — all the while navigating a problem of her own. 

“In the same timeframe I was designing and developing a device. I had this invention idea and he was supporting me,” she said, citing the day a cup of coffee turned the couple into caffeinated co-founders. 

“We realized that Hyprcubd and my invention were essentially growing together and it was a very interesting kind of growth. I knew how difficult it was to navigate and bring this device to the cloud and all of the pieces that were involved in that.”

Nearly three years later, Phillips has found herself leading the company and fully immersed in Kansas City’s evolving tech scene — supported by leading innovation and entrepreneurs support minds such as Lesa Mitchell, managing director of Techstars Kansas City and marketing experts that include Aaron Fulk and Eze Redwood at Lillian James Creative. 

Phillips also serves as a mentor for young women in tech through Underground Social and she and her husband participate in programming offered by Code For KC.

“Stepping into this as the CEO of Hyprcubd, knowing that I could make a difference and an impact in other women’s lives and in the community — and be a voice, because we are few and far between, there aren’t that many women in the tech industry, it speaks to my heart and its just so exciting,” Phillips said, sharing a glimpse into her past, which saw her growing up in computer science classes alongside her mother. 

“I sat in the computer labs of Kansas State University watching my mom in her computer courses. I look back and remember thinking, ‘Oh, this is just so boring,’ but I realize now that that had such a huge impact in my life,” she said, hopeful she can influence her two young daughters and her son in a similar way as she and her husband work to scale Hyprcubd. 

“Knowing that I had a very strong mother who always gave me that drive and [showed me] that you can do anything — and I’ve always believed that — I feel like I’m passing on that you really can do anything if you put forth the effort and the work. And it does take a community!”

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Hyprcubd CEO: From Psychotherapist to tech startup founder

For Jess Phillips, being a problem solver is simply who she is. It’s why she pursued a nearly 10-year career as a psychotherapist and child protection therapist.

Now, she’s using her skills for a starkly different path as CEO and co-founder oftech startup Hyprcubd.

To outsiders, the transition may seem abrupt. But Phillips views it as a natural extension of what she always has done — helping others identify and solve problems and achieve their goals.

“I personally have always been a problem solver. It was me searching out, ‘How do I continue helping people?’” she said.

Hyprcubd’s launch is rooted in another problem Phillips was trying to solve: finding a high-quality GPS tracking device for protecting her children and others. When she didn’t find a suitable option, she decided to invent one. Her device now is patent-pending and trademarked.

Through that experience, she encountered a number of frustrations, which led to founding Hyprcubd with her husband, Nick, a software engineer. One challenge, for example, was choosing Amazon Web Services, which offered more than 175 products and services from which to choose.

“It’s really hard creating an (Internet of Things) company because there’s so many things that you have to piece together. … It can be daunting,” she said. “How do you know what to choose? How do you connect them together? … Once I send my data to them, how do I visualize it? How can I be sure my device is working correctly? These issues were the things I wanted to know. I wanted to solve them, and once I did, I wanted to provide this solution for other founders, inventors and entrepreneurs.”

Hyprcubd removes the guesswork for inventors and entrepreneurs and provides a one-stop-shop Internet of Things (IoT) platform. Some features include managing devices and data, helping companies bring their devices to the cloud and providing real-time access to valuable data. Hyprcubd also provides device monitoring to help companies easily identify issues so problems can be fixed. The startup aims to make IoT innovation significantly cheaper and easier, Phillips said.

“We’re hoping to help other people bring their dreams to life,” she said.

For Phillips, running a tech startup hasn’t been much different than being a psychotherapist. She’s applied a number of the same principles to her new role: self-reflection, knowing that it’s OK to fail, and then moving on and learning from mistakes. Another key is being a good listener and accepting critiques from customers.

“I think that’s imperative to growth, that you’re always willing to evolve and meet the needs of your clients by working at, ‘What can we do better?’” she said.

Beyond customers, her top priority has been listening to advice and lessons learned from other local entrepreneurs and mentors, including Lesa Mitchell, managing director of Techstars Kansas City.

“Her advice and mentorship has been key in guiding me and just empowering,” Phillips said. “No matter what you’re doing, whether it be psychotherapist or tech, I think keeping your drive and being authentic to who you are is very important. … Helping people solve their problems – that is who I am. I’m a problem solver, and so that truly has been the root of this entire process. … It’s exciting to help other people succeed while also having a company that is meaningful to us.”

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Child Trafficking – stopping the act using reliable Technology

Nothing causes more pain to parents than having their little ones missing due to child trafficking. No parent should have to endure such emotional distress. But here we are; criminals are all over looking for ways to oppress the helpless, often raking billions of dollars annually in illegitimate profits. 

Luckily, thanks to progressive technologies like big data, IoT, and analytics, we could soon see an end to all these. Researchers and data experts can leverage these technologies to understand the child trafficking cycle, hence informing law enforcement accordingly. Like most other businesses in today’s digital era, traffickers rely on the internet (marketing and communication) to keep a steady demand and supply cycle. 

In other words, child trafficking is typically a supply chain where traffickers use a network to conduct their illicit business. While doing so, they leave a data trail, no matter how discretely they try to make their moves. And that’s where technology comes in. Curious to learn how technology can combat child trafficking? Let’s jump right in!

Anti-Child Trafficking Technology-Based Solutions

Child trafficking takes many forms. Including trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation, forced criminal activities, begging on the streets, forced early marriages, children as child soldiers, and organ removal. This section expounds on some of the technology tools to stop these child trafficking actions. Let’s go!

Tool #1. Victim/Trafficker Identification

Target User: Law enforcement officers

Law enforcers mostly use the victim or trafficker identification tool to track and identify child trafficking victims and traffickers. They can also be used by community members, NGOs, actual victims, and potential victims to rescue and report child trafficking incidences. 

So the big question is, how do victim/trafficker identification tools work? Previously, we mentioned that traffickers usually use the internet to run their shoddy business. Which sets the base for their tracking and identification by law enforcement. Since they use thousands of online platforms to facilitate their activities, it’s practically impossible to browse and analyze each of them manually. 

And that’s where IoT and data analytics integration come in handy. The technologies can help analyze regional and global patterns within a few clicks. By easily accessing the largest human trafficking datasets. These tools enable law enforcers and data analysts to reach the target via the channels they’re already using. And even go as far as tracking specific individuals and conduct further surveys in various locations and times for more informed analysis.

Tool #2. Supply Chain Management

Target User: Business owners

Businesses also have a role to play in combating child trafficking. By noting red flags in their global supply chains and reporting to the relevant authorities. Child trafficking in the supply chains can take various forms. One of the most common incidences is where traffickers target vulnerable workers to fill labor shortages across the entire supply chain. And it all begins in the grassroots. For instance, the bread on the shelves may be made with wheat harvested using forced child labor. 

Sometimes, business owners may get the urgency to hire many employees due to anticipated demand increase. This may force them to depend on agents and labor recruiters. Creating a disconnect between the employer and the employee, making it hard to establish any lousy hiring practices or exploitation. The examples are endless.

But is there a way out? You bet! The first measure businesses can take to prevent child trafficking in their supply chains is implementing anti-trafficking policies to address the risks involved. But one thing’s for sure; unless a tangible action is taken, mere policies can barely work. 

Businesses have to go out of their way and leverage technology-based solutions to ensure that no child trafficking occurs in their supply chains. Using IoT applications for supply chain management can help track or monitor every process. Right from sourcing raw materials to the transportation and shelving of products. For instance, if you’re in the jewelry industry, you can leverage IoT trackers to confirm that your supplier doesn’t use children in the mines (a common phenomenon). If that’s true, then you can report to law enforcement. 

Tool #3. Privacy/Personal Identity

Target User: A variety of stakeholders seeking various purposes, e.g., child trafficking victims anonymously seeking help. 

Sometimes you might not want to come out publicly to seek help or report a child trafficking case, and that’s okay! Luckily, technology has created a means of realizing that feat while still preserving your privacy or personal identity. 

There are several technology-based approaches that law enforcers, good Samaritans, and relevant NGOs can leverage to accomplish this mission. These may include smartphones, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth devices. According to former victims, the only time they find space away from their oppressors is when they enter public bathrooms. And that’s where IoT-enabled tools can come in handy identifying the criminals plus the victims. 

The first step is installing Bluetooth-enabled trackers in various public places suspected to be hot zones for trafficking and connecting them with good Samaritan’s smartphones. The victim only needs to squeeze the tracker to turn it on. Allowing it to broadcast its unique identifier to the volunteer’s smartphone in real-time. This information then gets relayed to the law enforcers and victim assistance NGOs. Giving room for a rapid response to pin down the traffickers and free the victims. 

If a rapid rescue isn’t possible, the IoT-enabled Bluetooth devices should record and transmit location data for further tracking. IoT can fish out higher-resolution data of the haunts and routes used by traffickers for grade-A analysis and future rescues. 

Side note: This is still a pilot program whose effectiveness and success would require maximal awareness-raising, collaboration, and education. The key target areas would be vulnerable communities (low socioeconomic status), schools, densely populated regions, and more. 

Final Remarks

These are just a few IoT-enabled tools that different stakeholders can leverage to stop child trafficking. Others may include securing payment methods, youth engagement & empowerment, ethical shopping, and data trends & mapping. We chose to expound on the three because they address issues concerning child trafficking like forced labor and sex abuse. The others fit in the general category of human trafficking. 

Are you a tech-enthusiast specializing in the manufacture of devices like the ones discussed above? If YES, then we are the right partner to help add value to your device through top-class connectivity, data access, real-time monitoring, and visualization for effective decision-making. Get in touch with our team today, and let us help you manage your device more securely and faster. 

Happy schoolgirl and her classmates e-learning over laptops during a class in the classroom.

Children using Technology: how to find the right balance?

Without a doubt, the world cannot run without technology. The internet is almost a basic need not only for our children but everyone in the world. Through technology, we can communicate, learn, and be entertained.

However, there is always a flip side–usually not very pretty. In as much as our children need the internet to prosper, they can also be harmed by the same platforms that they visit every day.

So how do we make technology, and more so the internet, safe for our kids? Find out what our experts have to say about protecting children using technology.

Children Using Technology

A study by NetSmartz indicates that children as young as 4 years are using their phones to access online information.

90 percent of children between age 12 and 17 have personal smart devices while 73 percent of teens have active social media accounts where they upload their pictures and other personal information.

Most children access online content using their mobile phones, gaming devices, computers, and tabs.

What are the Effects of Tech on Children?

According to a report by UNICEF, tech has both positive and negative effects on children. While the positive impacts of technology on children are unlimited, the negative ones can have some devastating effects as well.

Technology exposes children to cyberbullying, phishing scammers, exposure to inappropriate content, and online violence. In other cases, children may post things with critical information such as their images that can be used to track their location and reveal important information.

Children, therefore, have to be protected by all means. Fortunately, the same technology can be used to protect them and their activities online.

How to Protect Your Children Using Technology

The dangers of the internet on children using technology cannot be ignored. To ensure that your child is safe, follow the steps below:

1. Manage and Monitor Your Child’s Access to the Internet

Start by installing parental control software on your child’s mobile phone, tablet, gaming console, or computer. This will allow you to manage how/when your child uses the internet.

With this software, you can also manage your child’s access to specific websites and applications. You can dictate how they use each and every internet platform, and you can review their activities later. This will allow you to make the right calls.

You also need to install antivirus software on your child’s mobile phone, tablet, or computer. The antivirus will ensure that your child visits only legitimate websites.

Additionally, with a quality antivirus, your child cannot download harmful content or malware software whether knowingly or unknowingly.  

You can also set your antivirus software to block unwanted visitors from your child’s drive-through encryptions.

2. Teach Your Children How to Create Strong Passwords for their Online Accounts

As a parent, you might not always be available to oversee every account that your child creates on the internet. While your children may not be creating accounts that are necessarily harmful, it is important for them to have strong passwords for their general safety.

For instance, a Facebook account is very easy to create. The social media platform in itself is not bad with the right regulations in place. However, strangers might target your child’s account. This necessitates the need to have a strong password to prevent hacking.

Show your children how to create strong passwords for their online accounts. If they are old enough, encourage them to use the vast internet security features available.

For instance, the two-step verification formula is one that most people do not use but can be extremely useful.

3. Let Your Children Know that Strangers are Not Friends

For children who are old enough to comprehend information, remind them that not everyone on the internet wants to be their friend. Some are bad people who are there to collect their personal information.

Teach them that fraudsters can phish critical information such as passwords, bank account numbers, and passwords.

Scammers can always spam their emails, social media, make phone calls or send texts asking for information that is private. Teach them not to open emails from strangers, not to click on suspicious links, and not to reply to spam messages.

4. Have Clear, Laid out Rules for Your Children

In a positive and calm way, explain to your children why you need to oversee their online activities. Explain to them the dangers of spending too much time on the internet and why it is important to be cautious with technology.

Set the ground rules, limit their online time, ask them to inform you before posting anything online, and tell them to be respectful with those they interact with online.

Ask your children to report any cases of misbehavior, insults, or violence.

5. Always Be Ahead of Your Children

Most children are aware of technology more than their parents. While it is true that some of the things that your child does on the internet might not interest you (for example gaming), it is important to have an overview of the same.

Always know the type of games that your children play online, the type of websites they visit, and the kind of people they engage with. Remember, ignorance can be very costly.

As a parent, always keep up with the latest technological trends. You don’t have to dive deep, you just have to know something about everything.

You can achieve this by spending some time with your kids and allow them to show what they do online, you will be surprised by how much they know.

The Key Takeaway

Technology is here to improve everybody’s lives. For children using technology, it helps them to get information, socialize, and be entertained. However, if not monitored, the same technology can cause devastating effects.

Fortunately, you can use the same technology to keep your children safe. Always have antivirus software installed on your child’s smartphone, tablet, or computer. This will ensure that your child can access legitimate content only.

Parental control software is also beneficial. It ensures that your child only uses the technological device during the designated times and for the right reasons.

For a very long time, it has been rare to find women being involved in the tech industry. However, this narrative is quickly changing.

For residents of Kansas City, MO, and its environs, you can schedule a demo with Hyprcubd. Read our blog and follow us on Twitter for more relevant information.