Letter: We need to take steps to protect our children

To the Editor:

There has been much to say over what has transpired recently regarding the TNAC, Pamela, and the FOI that was sent without a phone call first, as well as many of the continuing repercussions for many. My personal opposition on much of what has happened pertains to one specific request of the FOI, which Pamela questioned and was then persecuted for. I will leave out the rest, because this, to me, was the most important aspect of the FOI. It concerns minor children in our community, and the duty we all have to work to protect each and every one of their interests.

Let me share how I would go about improving upon this situation. Let me first comment to one aspect of the First Selectman’s retort: That all of our youth sports send out personal information regarding the children, and that the TNAC should do what they do.

This type of thinking does not foster positive relationships within the community, nor does it place the youths into a state of protection. It simply means people should get on board and follow the manuscript, because someone else does it. This opens up the topic to an even wider issue. None of the groups should be sharing personal information regarding the youths that participate in town. There are too many things that can go wrong — a hacker can steal the data, a thief can commit child identity theft, and, at the worst, a predator or disgruntled person has at least one more way to target a child of their choosing.
First, I would immediately require that all youth-based organizations that supply the town with demographic and individual youth data redact any of this information, and to come up with a method of disguising their identities to any government, town employee, town department, FS, or other outside organization.

Second, I would investigate options on how to encrypt any data regarding children so that they are only known to the administering entity (e.g. Little League, soccer league, etc.). I would reach out to the FBI, Child Protective Services, and any other authority on the matter to figure out exactly what the best way to protect children in a town environment is, and I would secure the method through the town. I would then make this technology available to all organizations free of charge and immediately require its usage.

I would craft a communication to be sent to all of the organizations to be disseminated to all parents, detailing our compassion for them as parents, what the actions being taken are, why, and the timeline for resolution. I would also then submit a second communication upon the full completion of the project and thank each and every parent.

I’m upset regarding how this entire situation has been handled, but what I cannot stand for is to do nothing and state that because someone else does it, so should you. I know that data helps make better decisions, I know we can do better, I know the youth deserve better, and I believe that we can be a leader to fellow towns and communities on this subject.

Scott Kokosa