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Stranger Danger!

When you hear the word stranger it conjures up danger images of a scary looking, scraggly, bearded man wearing a hooded t-shirt. Yet in most instances the “strangers” that pose a real danger to our children do not fit the stereotype. Child predators can be found anywhere including on-line.

The Safe Surfin Foundation describes a child predator as someone who:

  • Is usually clean cut and has not had previous trouble with the law
  • Is most likely male (often white and middle-aged)
  • Is in a professional occupation and garners respect from others
  • Often involved with child related activities

Younger children as well as teenagers need to be aware of possible dangers
of strangers. We often discuss strangers with children but we forget that people
they know can be an abuser / a child predator. According to The National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children up to 90% of children are sexually abused by someone
that they know.

  • Children should never talk to, take anything (not even their own things), or accept rides from strangers.
  • Child Help USA suggests that parents teach their children about appropriate touching
    from adults and that looking at or being photographed for nude photos is abuse.
  • Children need to know that if any rules are broken or they feel uncomfortable
    around an adult another adult should be told immediately.
  • As parents we need to teach children the roles and boundaries of adult
    relationships. Music teachers should just teach music. Coaches should only be
    seen while at the ballpark.
  • It is also a parent’s role to pay attention when an adult shows
    greater interest in their child than appropriate.
  • Parents should also never allow their child to go anywhere alone with
    an adult who is not a primary caregiver.

Teenagers are spending an increasing amount of time on-line. The Safe Surfin Foundation
reports that the average teen spends 5.5 hours a day on-line, much of it in one of
40,000+ chat rooms. According to a 2002 FBI report there is a 100% chance that your
teenager will encounter a pedophile in a chat room at some time. Internet predators frequent
chat rooms and slowly compile data about teenagers from what the teenager believes
are innocent comments. These internet predators use this information to locate and hopefully meet
your child in person.

  • Teenagers need to realize that chatting with a person on-line does not
    mean you know them – they are still a stranger. It is easy to lie
    about your identity on-line.
  • Stress the importance of never giving any personal information in
    profile sections of on-line communities or while chatting. Always use an
    on-line name and never reveal an address, school, town, phone number, email
    address, or team they play on.

For more information about Internet safety for kids, including actual cases, and how
to protect your children visit the Safe Surfin Foundation.

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  • Ellena Smith | February 22, 2012

    Discuss and rehearse different scenarios with your child. This practice is vital to show your child the dangers of different scenarios such as strangers asking for directions in cars, offering gifts and making conversations. The idea of my children being harmed or lost is not something anyone wants to consider. I found an article by anationofmoms about a service that can protect your family via your cell phone. And, at the bottom there is an opportunity to enter a drawing for 6 months of that service just by liking them on Facebook. You might find it interesting:

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