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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