Online Predators are Lurking
Online Predators are hunting our children on the web and Our Youth First wants it stopped. Countless people find today’s technology to be a positive and fun part of life, especially when children, teens and young adults, are spending much of their time online. Unfortunately, the Internet has as many, if not more dangerous threats to our children than the real world. Online Predators are one of the biggest threats to our children’s safety when they are searching the web. Most think a predator is an adult who is searching for their next victim, in some cases these predators can be a teenager.
Online predators are looking for those they can exploit for sex or other harmful reasons. If you are a parent, grandparent or guardian of a child or teen who uses the Internet frequently, you need to take steps to maintain their safety. Follow Our Youth First to stay updated. It is most important that you learn the signs of online predators and understand the steps to take should you or your child encounters them. By learning the signs and using common sense, you and your child will continue to stay safe when online.
The Common Traits of a Predator
In many cases an online predator is looking to exploit a child or teen sexually. In many cases these monsters may be child molesters or pedophiles. There are numerous characteristics that are typical of predators.
Here are just a few:
- In general, Online Predators have an engaging and outgoing personality. An over friendly person should be viewed cautiously.
- Molesters actively seek out and target their prey, they might use the web to stalk a child whom they could know.
- They might know the child from church, school, the neighborhood or sports. The Predators may be complete strangers or someone who is known by the family.
The Grooming Process of Online Predators
Grooming is a way that an online predator gains the trust of a child or teen. This can happen over a very short time, or it can take place over a couple of weeks or months.
- An online predator is “usually” an adult. During the grooming and first interactions, they will lie about their age. This is done in order to gain trust of their targeted victim.
- The predator will work to establish some kind of a connection with the child.
- They will try to find that common bond, sports, unhappy at home or similar, getting the young person to open up more about themselves.
- When a predator hears the child plays sports, for instance, the child may get a response, “What team, where do you play?”
Request to Meet, the RED FLAG Moment
When you or your child is unsure you are chatting or inter acting with online, there are many specific things to watch out for. Learning the warning signs and being aware of them will help keep your family safe.
- Once the grooming period has ended, many predators, will ask to meet. A good example of this is, “I would really like to meet you in person.” This is a huge Red Flag and needs to be addressed.
- Consequently be aware of and leery of repeated requests. If the person is insisting on meeting, question their motive.
- Just say, “I do not meet in person, so please just cool it.”
Watch out for flattery
Almost always, Predators, both on and off line, often try to manipulate the ego and emotions of their prey. Many will offer unsolicited compliments as a way to gain or curry favor. Be very cautious of overly enthusiastic or free-flowing flattery.
- If your child or teen has pictures or videos of themselves online, protect these so that only family and friends can see them. Predators will use these to make comments.
- A warning sign to be aware of are comments like, “You are so pretty or a great singer.” “I know people looking for models or singers.”
A statement or post that can be interpreted as a threat is another warning sign you need to be on the lookout for. Scare tactics are used by predators all the time. They are used to scare a child or young person into doing exactly what they want.
- Should someone use these, exit the internet immediately and report it.“Don’t tell your parents or anyone we have been talking.” This is an outright threat.
- “I will tell everyone things about you.” A threat used to basically force your child into meeting.
- Never give out personal information.
Are you concerned that your teen or child is a target of an online predator? There are many signs you can and should look for.
- Does your child seem secretive about activities when they are online?
- Maybe, they seem obsessed with the Internet?
- Do they hide their screen from view when you enter the room?
- Have they been getting calls or texts from people you know nothing about?
Speaking with your Child about Online Predators
Are you having concerns that your child or teen is talking or interacting with an online predator? Your first action is to speak with your child, speak to them sooner than later. Rather than scold, please let your child that you are not mad or upset just worried. First of all, put yourself in your child’s place.
- First and foremost, remind your child or teen that you trust them and that they can trust you.
- Let them know that you are just concerned and looking out for their safety.
- Ask questions, “It seems your mood changes when you are online, is something wrong?”
- Set ground rules for being online and staying safe.
- It is most imperative that your child knows and understands the signs of a predator.
Check the Computer
Most noteworthy, do your children have their own computer, or do they use the family’s?
- Always make sure the software is up to date and parental controls in place.
- Scan the computer regularly, checking for programs and downloads.
- Pay close attention to downloads that are concerning you and do the proper research.
- As a result, make sure that all chat rooms are set to save conversations.
Yet, while most tech savvy children today know how to get around just about anything today. However, most programs, chat rooms, operating systems and browsers have parental controls protected by passwords.
- Have a NO DELETE rule in place. Let your child know that it is not alright to clear out the search history or cache. Check it often.
- So make time limits and enforce them.
- Also, always be aware of who your child’s friends are. Do you know them or their parents, your child should be able to identify without hesitation who these friends are.
Instincts, Listen to Them
Everyone has a gut feeling, in the case of online predators, go with the feeling. Are your instincts telling you something is off, then most likely you are right.
- When reviewing your teen’s activity online, if your gut tells you that they could be dealing with an online predator. Do not ignore it. Act on it.
- Especially relevant, speak with your child right away. Investigate and report.
Our Youth First is dedicated to stopping Online Predators. We must act as a whole society to fight this. Online Predators must be stopped.
To report any suspicious acts of abuse or sexual misconduct go to www.cybertipline.com or call 1-800-843-5678.
End Online Predators, NOW. Join with Our Youth First, today.