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Children & Online Predators

Jan 8, 2008
The most common method by which online predators reach children over the Internet is through chat rooms, instant messages and email. There are many children who go into chat rooms looking for a friend or someone who understands them. Consequently, most children who frequent chat rooms are at serious risk of encountering an online predator. Considering that 25% of kids using the internet participate in real time chat and 13 million use some sort of instant messaging program, the risks of such children interacting with a sexual predator is astounding.

Some sexual predators slowly gradually seduce their children through the use of attention, affection, kindness, and sometimes gifts. Many times these stalkers are willing to devote enormous amounts of time, money, and energy in this process. They listen to, and attempt to identify with kids and their problems. Most online predators will be aware of the latest music, hobbies, and interests of children. They attempt to reduce young people's inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into their conversations.

One of the primary attractions of using internet is the anonymity of the user, and this is exactly why it can be so dangerous. A child won't always know with whom he or she is interacting with. Children may think they know, but unless it's a school friend or a relative, they really are never sure. Often we think of pedophiles as having access to children out on the playground and other places, but because of the nature of the internet and how it works children can easily interact with adults on their home computer who are pretending to be to be children.

Typically a young girl is targeted then a young boy. A recent study found that sometimes girls rely too much on their own judgment in deciding how to behave online. In this study, 30 percent of girls reported that they had been sexually harassed in a chat room. Unfortunately, only 7 percent told their mothers or fathers. When online respondents were recently asked how they know what is safe or unsafe behavior on the Internet, 84 percent cited their own common sense. Conversely, 51 percent of these girls cited learning from parents, 46 percent said television and the media, 29 percent said teachers, 29 percent said friends.

Should any of the following events occur while your are your children are using the internet at home you should immediately contact your local police:
- your child or anyone in the household Receives child pornography
- your child is sexually solicited by someone
- your child receives sexually explicit pictures from someone online

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) provides numerous and varied resources concerning sexual exploitation of children for the lay public, counseling community, and law enforcement agencies. Make sure that your children are aware of online predators and the things that could happen to them. Always stress why they should never give out any information, even when the person says they are trustworthy. Don't let your children to become a statistic.
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