What Au Pairs need to understand about privacy and safety (for themselves AND their Host Family)
Dear Au Pairs, we get it. We really do. You are young adults, not children. We understand that some of you have already lived on your own, started (or even completed) college, have traveled extensively, had serious relationships and are technologically savvy. These are the things that make you great Au Pairs and a fantastic match for many families.
But, the truth is, the world can be dangerous and scary. Not only do you need to always be cautious and protective of yourself, you need to be cautious and protective of your Host Family and their home. Here are a few tips for making sure you and your Host Family stay safe.
Making friends / Meeting people – We know that we can’t prevent you from using social media apps and internet websites from meeting new people. These are the times we live in and we know that as young adults these are the tools that you have at your disposal – and they can be very helpful for assisting someone in finding friends. However:
- Never EVER give your Host Family address to someone you have never met. Never let a stranger pick you up at home to give you a ride or take you on a date.
- If you are going to meet someone for the first time you need to meet them in a PUBLIC place with lots of people like a restaurant, shopping mall or museum.
- Make sure your Host Family knows where you are going and give them the name and phone number of the person you are meeting. (If someone won’t give you a phone number, DON’T MEET THEM)
Houseguests – We all like to have friends sleep over and hang out. We enjoy it when out-of-town visitors come and spend some time with us. While you ARE part of the family for a year, there are certain things you need to make sure you have permission for:
- If a friend is coming over to hang out with you and wants to sleep over, you must have your Host Family’s permission. Do not assume it is okay.
- If you are dating, it is unlikely that your Host Family will permit your boyfriend or girlfriend to sleep over. You should speak to them about it and find out what their household rule is.
- Do not assume that family and friends visiting you from other states or countries can stay with you at your Host Family’s home. You must ask first. It may not be okay, there may not be enough space or they may simply prefer that your friends and family stay at a nearby hotel. Be understanding and respectful of this.
PayPal / Google Pay – There are many scams out there that ask you to provide your PayPal, Google Pay or bank account information. Thieves are very clever. Never provide your Social Security number, logins, passwords or bank account information to anyone who requests it via telephone or email. If something seems a little “off” or you are just uncertain, please ask your Host Parent(s) to take a look at it.
Telephone / Camera – It is perfectly normal to take photos of yourself and of your Host Family during the course of your year. You want to always remember the fun you had. But:
- Never share photos of your Host Family (especially photos of their children) on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or elsewhere without their permission. NOT EVEN WITH AU PAIR FOUNDATION OR YOUR OVERSEAS PARTNER. If you send APF a photo for use in a contest or the newsletter, you need to tell us that you had permission to do so.
- If you DO have permission to post certain photos, never identify the children by their names or mention their address, name of their school, etc.
- When taking photos, even just of you, please remember that the Internet is forever. Your personal phone or a phone on your Host Family’s plan may automatically upload a backup of your photos to the Cloud or other storage. These photos can be seen by your Host Family or even complete strangers, depending on who has viewing privileges or depending on the privacy settings.
It is so important to remember that back home, you know every corner of your city. You know what areas to avoid and you know where it is safe. You have friends and family to look out for you and who know where you are going, who you are with and where you should or shouldn’t be at any given time. You have a comfort level with your surroundings and the confidence that goes with that familiarity. But here, it is all new to you, so please be careful and protective of your safety and privacy, and the safety and privacy of your Host Family.