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Sexual Predators
and online safety

Are your children in line or online?

Online chat rooms, message boards and instant messaging are all the rage with today's preteen to teenage children. However these communication tools are also the feeding grounds of some of the worst predators on the planet. 

There are numerous sex offender mapping sites on the web.  Many of which are free.  These sites usually have convicted child molesters, rapists and other violent crimes.  Utilize these to your advantage.  At the minimum, know where the registered sex offenders are in your area.  Keep in mind these are only the convicted and registered offenders, child molestation often goes on for long periods of time until it is ever reported. 

Having regular talks with your children about what they should and should not do online is very important. The people they meet online are very often not who they appear to be.  Keep the following list in mind when talking with your children.

  • Make sure you know of any "friends" they have met online.

  • Never allow a physical meeting of an online "friend" without being present. It is a better idea to disallow physical meetings of online "friends" all together.

  • Make sure you children always use an alias that cannot be tracked back to them. Using a real name makes locating your children too easy.

  • Advise your children not to reveal personal information that can be used to identify them. Especially, do not allow your children to say where they live, play or go to school.

Be aware of online bullying. When it comes to chat with schoolmates and other friends, bullying often extends to online activities. If your child is being bullied, get the bully's parents and school involved in correcting the problem. If your child is being the bully and you are feeling unsuccessful in resolving the problem, seek some outside help. There are numerous resources available by searching the web.

Parental controls are a valuable asset even if it you don't try to use them to block anything.  Almost all parental control software or appliances have a monitor only mode.  Using the tool this way will keep kids from looking for a bypass method so quickly.  As we talk about on our parental controls page.  Any of control can be bypassed.  Unless you have seasoned network security professional installing your parental controls, don't trust that they will keep your children from doing what ever they want online.  Remember once your child figures out how to bypass the controls, you will also lose the ability to know what they are doing online.  It is much better to monitor and have discussions with your children when they do something of risk online than risk that they will learn how to defeat the technology and you.

Adults are also victims of online sexual predators. Just because your are grown and supporting yourself doesn't mean you should feel safe forging friendships online and revealing personal information.