Is Your Child At Risk Online?
Parents and friends can watch for warning signs that a child is at risk of being exposed to the wrong people or content.
Your child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night. Child predators can be online at any time, but most work during the day and spend their evenings online trying to strike up conversations with young people.
You find pornography on your child's computer, phone or storage device. Adults who are seeking to exploit children often supply potential victims with pornography as a means of opening sexual discussions and for seduction. They may even use child pornography to try to show that sex between children and adults is "normal."
Your child receives phone calls from someone you don't know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don't recognize. Adults who want to exploit children use these calls to learn more about the children they are pursuing. Through Caller ID they may be able to determine the child's full name and address. Child predators have been known to provide toll-free numbers so potential victims can call without their parents finding out. Phone conversations may include "phone sex," often as a prelude to a face-to-face meeting for real sex.
Your child receives mail, gifts or packages from someone you don't know.
As part of the "grooming" process
that is used by child predators, it is common for them to send letters, photographs and gifts to their potential victims.
Your child hides what they are doing on the computer. When a child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor, they are attempting to conceal something. A child looking at pornographic images or having sexually explicit conversations does not want you to see it on the screen.
Your child becomes withdrawn from the family. Adults who are seeking to exploit children work hard to drive a wedge between a child and their family. Any problem that a young person has at home can be manipulated to make that child feel isolated from his or her loved ones. Children under the influence of a predator may pull away from their families and may also become withdrawn after they have been victimized sexually.
Your child is using another email account. Some online entities offer free email services, so email accounts can be created quickly and without cost. If your child is using an account other than the one you may have authorized, he or she may be communicating with someone who wants to keep the relationship secret. Keep in mind that your child could still meet and exchange messages with an adult while online at a friend's house, the library or at school.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation
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You can also watch a video on Internet Safety, What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Children
, and view a resource guide.