Why Zoom?: An Overview

The safety of the Virtual Mentoring Program for all participating boys and mentors is our top priority. We have instituted several policies and additional security protocols into the curriculum to uphold a level of group confidentiality that makes everyone feel protected in virtual meetings.

An NPR article recently exposed the problems that can result from hosting public Zoom meetings. Because of this, we will NEVER host a public virtual group meeting! The opportunity for hackers to enter a meeting is substantially decreased by utilizing the private Zoom group feature.

In addition, only the following individuals are eligible to participate in our virtual groups at this time:

  • BTM staff
  • Alumni BTM program participants
  • Current BTM program participants
  • Current volunteer mentors

We trust these boys and men, and they are well versed on the framework of a group meeting and our policies and procedures. Once current COVID-19 restrictions on social engagement are lifted, we look forward to welcoming new boys and volunteer mentors to participate in the Virtual Mentoring Program.

Controlling access for all participants is a crucial component of upholding security standards in the virtual world. We have created the following tiers of engagement to manage the safety of all group meetings.

ADMIN: Admins have the highest level of security clearance in our Virtual Mentoring Program. Admins have access to all of our admin controls (user, room, account, and recording management) and can edit the list of who can serve as a meeting Host for BTM. All Hosts must use their own email address for tracking and our Admin must manually approve them before hosting a group meeting. In addition, Admins can manage all security features that hosts are granted for group meetings, and Hosts cannot record a meeting unless the Admin gives them access to do so. In addition, no groups will be recorded until all participants are notified and have given verbal consent. Local and cloud recording is disabled for all additional participants (volunteer mentors and boys).

Currently, one staff member is serving as Admin for BTM. Additionally, our Executive Director and Chairman of our Board of Directors have Admin login credentials to monitor all Admin activity.

HOST: A Host is someone who is the lead facilitator of any virtual group meeting. Hosts can be a BTM staff member or a volunteer facilitator who has completed facilitator training which includes a one-on-one orientation with our Mentor Coordinator and random, ongoing BTM supervision of their groups. A Host is the only person in a group who can perform the following:

  • Move participants from the Waiting Room into a group
  • Screen sharing
  • Hold, mute, or disable participants
  • Disable a participant’s camera and/or microphone

VOLUNTEER MENTOR: A volunteer mentor is someone who is participating in a group, but is not the Host. This volunteer has completed the process to become a mentor in virtual groups. All mentors have been interviewed, passed a Department of Justice LIVESCAN background check, and receive ongoing training and feedback from BTM staff.

One of the best ways to limit hackers in Zoom groups is to enable the Waiting Room feature. The Waiting Room stops anyone from joining until the Host manually moves them into the meeting. This allows the host to screen participants before groups. This feature is currently enabled for all BTM virtual mentoring groups. In addition, a personalized message pops up before any participant enters the group meeting notifying them of our Virtual Mentoring Program participation requirements.

We want to thank our mentors and boys for being such a big part of the development process for this program, and as a result, we were able to successfully adapt much of our curriculum to suit this new, virtual space.

In order to verify all group attendees, a front-facing camera and microphone are required for participation.
Although we cannot control who may be in the vicinity of each participant during a group (parent, spouse, friend, etc.), we have outlined a list of acceptable behaviors for group meetings for both boys and mentors to ensure that the meetings are a respectful space for all who wish to participate. In addition, Hosts are encouraged to utilize the ability to mute, disable, or remove any participant who is not following our group guidelines at any time.

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