With millions of users sites like Facebook and YouTube attract people from all walks of life including child predators. According to Crimes Against Children Research Center, One in five U.S. teenagers who regularly log on to the Internet say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation via the Web. Solicitations were defined as requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk, or to give personal sexual information. And 25% of children have been exposed to unwanted pornographic material online.
If your child spends a lot of time online and you are concerned that she may be at risk of becoming a victim of a child predator below are a few warning signs to look for.
Your child spends most of her time online at night.
Most child predators work during the day so they spend the most time online in the eventing when they get home.
Your child’s computer has pornography on it.
Sex offenders tend to lure their victims in with pornography to open up sexual discussions and to seduce them. Images of child pornography between a young person and an adult is used as a way to show kids that this practice is “normal” when in actuality it is wrong.
Your child is making phone calls to numbers you don’t recognize or your home phone is receiving long distance calls from numbers that you are not familiar with.
Most child predators use the computer to lure in their victims while what they really want to do is talk to your child on the telephone. Often they will try to engage children in “phone sex” and set up a time to meat your child for real sex.
Your child receives mail or gifts from someone you don’t know.
Your child changes the screen on his computer or turns the monitor off when you are in the room.
Your child becomes withdrawn.
Your child is using an online account belonging to someone else.
If you suspect your child is communicating with a sexual predator on-line don’t panic, there are ways you can prevent anything further happening to your child.
- Talk to your child openly about your suspicions and tell him about the dangers of online sexual predators.
- Take a close look at what is on your child’s computer. If you are concerned you can share what you find with someone close to your family and ask for another opinion.
- Make sure you have a caller ID service on your home phone and you check the call logs and contacts on your child’s cell phone. Verify that you know all the contacts on your child’s cell phone contact list. You can also request that your telephone company block calls from certain phone numbers.
- Purchase an online monitoring system such as PureSight or SentryPC to monitor your child’s online activity. You can also check with your ISP to see if they offer parental controls or an online monitoring software for their subscribers.
If your child has received pornography over the internet, is under the age of 18 and has been sexually solicited by someone who knows that your child is under 18, or has received sexually explicit images from someone who knows that your child is under the age of 18 you must contact your local law enforcement agency.
If your child is under the age of 14, The Healthy Moms Magazine recommends that you do not allow him to have a social media account of any kind. If your child does have a social media account on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else please make sure you are friends with your child online so you can monitor his actions.
Cascia Talbert is a busy blogger, publisher, freelance writer, online merchant and mother of five children, living in The Pacific Northwest. With a B.A. in history and law and a passion for writing and staying healthy, she started The Healthy Moms Magazine in 2007. The Healthy Moms Magazine is currently ranked the top health blog for moms and features several health expert writers and mom bloggers. Ms. Talbert believes that if mothers are well educated on health issues and how to stay healthy, they can pass that information down to their children and reverse the childhood obesity statistics in the U.S.
Ms. Talbert is a featured health blogger at Wellsphere.com and her articles can also be found on ezinearticles.com. She also runs the Healthy Moms Social Network on Ning, manages Mom’s Natural Health and Wellness Store, and is on the Social Media Advisory Board for America’s Wellness Challenge.