Please note, this section mostly applies to our Community Based Match Program.


Staying Safe Online

CTA Safety Tips

Updated: BBBS Water-Related Activities Policy

Winter is here!


Staying Safe Online


Pop Quiz Time!

Question: what the heck are these?

Tik Tok, Roblox, Discord, Houseparty, MeetMe, Kik,, Whisper, Monkey, Yubo

Answers we’ve received:

a) Gibberish. b) New #hashtags c) The apocalypse, because I am officially old. d) A new dance move?

Real answer: These, are all social networking apps.

We have the old faithfuls: Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp – but more and more apps are being populated at an alarming rate. With the millions of apps, websites and other platforms for people to communicate through media that are all over the Internet these days, this is truly the age of social media. Teenagers – so, your Littles – are among the top users of most social media platforms. Whether it’s updating their status, fitting a joke into 280 characters or uploading a sick selfie, we are on the Internet a lot. Social media is a huge part of our culture.

It is no longer the era of age, sex, location (AOL users, anyone?), but the level of disclosure reaches a level that can be troubling, and once anyone puts this information online, they will never get it back. Since Littles are often trying to catch the attention of and gain approval from their peers, some tend to post content to appear popular or to gain a response. Some examples include: teens jockey for status, post risqué pictures, brag about the previous weekend’s adventures. Unfortunately, all of this can turn this ‘fun digital space’ to humiliate others or post inappropriate content. No information is truly private in the online world; a harmless joke can turn into cyberbullying, a comment on a Facebook photo can start an all-out war – the possibilities are endless.

Just give a LITTLE encouragement…

Here are tips you can pass along in helping your Little stay in control of their online reputation:

  • Don’t post information, photos, or videos you might regret later. Think about your online image (Who will see this? What will they think?)
  • Once you put it on the Internet, it’s out of your control. Forever.
  • Want to get back at someone? Don’t do it online. Kids have been suspended and even arrested for posting threatening messages.
  • Remember, it doesn’t take very long for a text message or online content to travel. Something that you regret saying now could be all over your school in a matter of minutes. Consider how fast information and mages get forwarded to people beyond your group of friends via texting, IM, and e-mail – especially sexually explicit ones.
  • Talk to a trusted adult about any information you receive or see online that makes you scared or uncomfortable.
  • Keep your personal information private.
  • Only add friends you know in real life.
  • Never meet in person with anyone you first met online.
  • Contact the site administrator if someone makes a page in your name.
  • Don’t post your plans or whereabouts on your site.
  • Never post sexually provocative photos


Worried yet? Let’s look at a few statistics…

  • 72% of teens have a social networking profile and nearly half (47%) have a public profile that anyone can view
  • More than 59% of US teenagers have experienced bullying or harassment online.
    • with 42% of teens saying they’ve been called offensive names.
    • Around 32% said that someone had spread false rumors about them online.
    • 25% said they had received unwanted explicit images.
    • 21% of teens said that they had been harassed about their whereabouts and what they are doing or with who.
    • 16% of the teens surveyed said that they received physical threats on the internet.
  • 64% of students who were victims of cyberbullying said that it affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school.
  • 15% of young cyberbullying victims would prefer to keep the issue a secret.
  • 37% of bullying victims develop social anxiety.
  • A survey of adolescents in the 10-17 age range showed that:
    • About 12% were the perpetrators of online aggression in the past year.
    • About 4% said they were the target of harassment on the internet
    • 3% of respondents said that they were both a victim and a perpetrator.
  • 22% of teens log on to their favorite social site more than 10 times a day.
  • More than 50% of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day.
  • Teens often include the following information on their social networking profiles:
    • Real age (50%)
    • Photos of themselves (62%)
    • City they live in (41%)
    • School name/location (45%)
    • Videos of friends (16%)
    • Videos of themselves (14%)
    • Their cell phone number (14%)
    • Places where they typically go (9%)

If anything comes up, please inform your Match Support Specialist immediately. We can provide additional resources. And try not to Google the other social networking sites… it may frighten you!


CTA Safety Tips



Not all Bigs have a car, and a lot use the CTA. Taking public transit is a good opportunity to teach your Little how to navigate the city! If you elect to take CTA with you little you must be sure to have the permission of your Little’s Parent/Guardian first! Also inform your Little’s Parent/Guardian which routes or lines you will be using; they may have tips for a better route, or have hesitations about going through certain neighborhoods.

Keep in mind that you, the Big, are still expected to pay any transportation costs. While your Little has a “student fare Ventra card” that allows a reduced fare on school days 5:30am-8:30pm, you are responsible for providing the funds on the Ventra card that will be used on the outing!


Use the following tips to ensure yours and your little’s safety:


  1. Be Aware! This may seem obvious, but to ensure your Little’s safety and comfort take a look around and be alert at all times while waiting for CTA buses or trains and while en route.
  2. Talk to your Little about the different safety measures regarding public transportation. This includes pointing out the yellow line to stand behind and utilizing the heat lamps when it is chilly.
  3. Trust your gut! If you feel like something is off, or if there is suspicious activity on or waiting for buses/trains, remove yourself from the situation. Get off the bus and wait for the next one or change rail cars. Be sure to text/call your Little’s Parent/Guardian to notify them of any delays.
  4. Crowded? If a bus is packed it may be best to wait for the next one; same with the trains. If there is only 1 available seat, let your Little sit down and stand near them. Do NOT sit in a seat away from your Little’s seat.Remember, Littles cannot sit on Bigs’ laps.
  5. Keep all items close. Phones, wallets, etc. should be kept out-of-sight and protected to avoid pickpockets. Another tip: Don’t pat your pockets or check your purse too frequently, this can let thieves know exactly where your wallet or phone is.
  6. Plan your routes ahead of time or, better yet, stick to tried-and-true routes and stations that you know well.
  7. Keep your Little close and make sure that they too are following all of the safety tips.
  8. Follow all rules of the CTA! No going on the tracks, no eating or drinking, etc. All rules and policies can be found here.


Updated: BBBS Water-Related Activities Policy


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago allows matches to participate in certain water-related activities (ie. swimming, boating, paddle boarding, kayaking), but they come with certain precautions.

Swimming: Matches have permission to swim, however it must take place at a public facility (ie. public pool, public beach, water park, etc.) and a lifeguard must be present. Matches do not have permission to swim at apartment complexes and/or private pools.

Other water-related activities: Matches have permission to engage in water-related activities such as kayaking, paddle boating, and boating/rafting activities. However, Littles must wear life jackets at all times. Please note that the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour is a permitted outing activity with prior permission from the Little’s Parent/Guardian.

Attire: To minimize the risk of changing in public places, it is recommended that program participants wear swimming gear under regular clothing. If changing into or out of clothing occurs, Bigs and Littles must have separate changing areas and cannot change in public locker/changing rooms.


Winter is here!


Winter Safety Tips

  1. Make sure that your Little is dressed appropriately for the weather including gloves, hats and scarves (layers are key! Your Little should be able to stay warm while outside and be able to stay cool while indoors.) Keep an extra hat and pair of gloves in your car, just in case!
  2. If you are having an active outing outdoors, make sure to get someplace warm once the activity is over. Once you have slowed down and caught your breath after ice skating, that sweat you two worked up will get cold quickly. Decompress in a warmer temperature before you get back outdoors.
  3. Check the weather reports! It can be sunny in the morning but quickly turn to snow flurries by noon! Make sure you keep your eye on that weather report to make sure no storms are headed your way.
  4. Ask your Little’s parent/guardian about how their street looks after a big snow! It may be tougher to find parking and the road may be icy.
  5. Speaking of icy roads, drive slowly in the winter and break early and often. You never know when you may hit an ice patch. If you do, do NOT slam on the breaks. Break slowly and let your car gain some traction. Remember, every road is different due to shade and temperature and whether or not those plows got there before the ice settled!
  6. Give yourself more time for travel and more space between you and other drivers.
  7. Beware of slippery sidewalks. If you notice a side walk is slippery keep your hands free and walk like a penguin with your feet turned out and little steps (this might also be good for a laugh with your Little).


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