Among the many conversations we have with our private clients and their family office advisors, one of the most common and recurring focuses on how to help ensure the safety of adolescents and children, especially as they begin to increase their activity online and their personal associations and connections beyond the protective perimeters of their home and school.

Our approach is informed by best practices and thoroughly designed — but it also seeks to be practical and as seamlessly integrated as possible with the family’s culture, principles and priorities as well as, to some extent, the evolving interests and lives of the children themselves.

Fostering Young Adult and Teen Safety: Real-Life Solutions

Every family is different. Here’s how two have recently engaged our support.

  • A Hollywood Internship: In one case, a client was concerned about their daughter who was headed across the country to Los Angeles for an internship. A fantastic opportunity for sure, but alarming for parents who wanted to keep their child safe in an unfamiliar city — and not put a dent in her celebrity sightings. Within 24 hours, we arranged to have off-duty police officers greet her as she stepped off her flight at Los Angeles International Airport and escort her to her apartment. They gave her a private, custom manual, “How to Enjoy Las Angeles Safely” booklet that our teams in Chicago had researched and compiled just for her use. The manual included safety and security telephone numbers (including their personal cell phones and assurances that she could call at any time of the night). The officers also talked about several common sense tips and practices to keep her security awareness top of mind.
  • A Daughter’s Ex-Boyfriend Threatens Her: In another case, the ex-boyfriend of a college-age daughter had been menacing her online – and several of his posts were troubling. We had been supporting the family from a security and investigations perspective for several years. At her father’s request, we conducted an open-source intelligence review, including social media postings – both by this particular individual as well as by the daughter herself – as well as a discrete background investigation of the young man. Based on our findings, we conducted proactive liaison with local law enforcement agencies, provided the family with recommendations on how to better ensure their daughter’s security at the time and, at the family’s request, prepared an educational presentation for the couple’s adolescent children on how to manage the risks of social media sharing.

5 Practical Security Solutions for Young Adults on the Go

There are some basics to keep in mind. These are relevant for adults as well, of course. But they’re especially important for adolescents to understand and follow.

  • Location Services: Adjust location services on social media apps and disable GPS on your phone to keep someone with malicious purposes from finding you, particularly at your home, school or job. Try to post pictures of an event after leaving the venue to avoid interaction with someone with ill intent.
  • Situational Awareness: Especially in a new city, it is always important to understand where you are. Consider how far you are from your residence, if you could easily grab a cab if needed and if the area has sufficient lighting for walking safely at night. Be aware of quick exits in any buildings, particularly bars, concert venues or clubs. If drinking, be sure to monitor how much you or another individual is consuming; never leave a drink unattended and then resume drinking it later.
  • Keep in Contact: Make sure someone always knows where you are, whether that be a family member, a close friend or even just a co-worker. Several apps like the Kitestring will automatically ask for updates and then contact pre-selected individuals if you fail to respond.
  • Avoid Public Transportation: While taking public transportation is difficult to avoid in a big city, if in an unfamiliar area or out late at night, your safest option is calling a cab or Uber.
  • Basic Security Monitoring: Even in an apartment, it’s possible to install some basic monitoring devices to watch out for any intruders. The internal Nest Cam will notify you via an app if it senses any movement in your apartment while away (an added bonus is you can keep an eye on any pets!). If the landlord allows it, external cameras can also be installed for seeing who may be outside your door.

Prevention Requires Awareness and Education

When adolescents and young adults grow up with a healthy – and age-appropriate – awareness of risks, they are in a far better place to prevent security incidents from occurring and mitigate the negative impacts of those that do.

In case you were wondering, the client’s daughter had a wonderful time in LA and successfully completed her internship. And the other client’s daughter remains safe from her ex-boyfriend.

Engagements like these are particularly rewarding for us at Hillard Heintze, not only because we’re employing a prevention-oriented methodology to keep our clients safe, but because, in these cases, these are learning moments for young adults just getting their start. They both have learned tools that will help them for years to come — and will give their parents some needed peace of mind.