Online predators are an increasing threat to families and children everywhere. As soon as you or your child opens their computer, it opens a window for thousands of predators, who work in conjunction with one another. They teach each other how to appease the parents; how to avoid the law; and how to groom children. They might make a child feel like they are special and the child can trust no one but the person on the other end of the screen, but in truth, they may be grooming over a 100’s of children at a time.
They target both boys and girls of all ages and use the Internet to assume any identity they want. They are master manipulators with skills that is too much for a child to combat alone, let alone be aware of their cunning ways. The predator targets children who have a lack of emotional and family support (Parents can be home and not involved with their children). They develop a relationship with your child and it progresses to the child is made to believe they can trust no one, but the other person on the screen. The perpetrator may coax the child to start showing them pics of themselves, maybe undressing in front of the computer screen, or doing sexually explicit acts. They will then record these instances, or use the information your child has given in confidence to shame or guilt the child into silence. The grooming process may take months, but since they are grooming several, they have plenty of time to invest in the grooming process. Then one fateful day, they will ask to meet your child at a mall, a park, or somewhere of interest to your child, still pretending to be someone of the child’s age range.
With social network profiles and smart phones ISP addresses, predators can easily find information about potential victims since many naive children list personal information with no regard for safety. Teens will post their jersey numbers, school photos, dance club photos, clubs they are in, school and church events, and things happening around the house, which makes it easy for a perpetrator to find their address of your home, their license plate number, where they hang out, if mom and dad are home, if they have siblings, and any information they need to fulfill they hidden agendas. Post placed on the internet travel fast worldwide, and may never be recovered, which will impact future jobs and college applications.
Parents must be on guard to protect their families. It is better to have your child mad at you for snooping through their internet profiles and postings, than for them to go missing and never return home. There are many organizations and government agencies designed to assist parents with issues such as these. Internet searching for information will also provide many links and web sites to help.
Predator Grooming • Chat Rooms (based on interest) • Look for child oriented screen names • Search through SN profiles • Strike up a conversation • Show interest and gain their trust • Build them up (be their friend)
Predator Warning Signs • Spends a lot of time online • Find porn on the computer • Receive phone calls, mail, gifts from people you do not know • Withdraws from normal activity • Switches screen quickly (Alt+Tab) • Uses other accounts for e-mail or Instant Messaging
Some Helpful Web Sites for More Information: http://www.fbi.gov/publications/pguide/pguidee.htm http://www.ic3.gov http://www.missingkids.com http://www.netsmartz.org http://www.staysafe.org http://www.isafe.org/
Online predators: Help minimize the risk
How do online predators work?
How can parents minimize the risk of a child becoming a victim?
How can your kids reduce the risk of being victimized?
There are a number of precautions that kids can take, including:
What can you do if your child is being targeted?
Source: Some of the above information was adapted, with permission, from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation publication A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety.
The Crisp software analyses the content of online conversations in an attempt to uncover predators wanting to groom, and potentially abuse, children.