Summertime means your kids are spending more time unsupervised. With that downtime comes their increased presence on social media. As parents, it is imperative that we know what our children are doing online and who to whom they are texting, tweeting, and communicating with online.
The Internet, and now social media, has given sexual predators access to youth, not only around the country, but also abroad. The Crime Against Children Research Center reports that 1 in 5 kids has received unwanted sexual solicitations via the web, and 25% of kids who use the Internet say they have been exposed to unwanted pornographic material online. 77% of those youth targeted were 14 or older. 22% were 10-13 years of age.
As a parent/guardian, you simply can’t keep your children from connecting with others via social media, but, there are some warning signs of which you must be aware, that may indicate whether or not your child has been contacted by a sexual predator, including:
-Increased activity on their phones or the internet
-pornography on your child’s computer
-receiving phone calls from adults you don’t know
-letters, gifts and packages in the mail from unknown sources addressed to your child
According to the FBI, there are some things you can do to safeguard your children from being victimized by sexual predators online. They include:
-Talk to your child. This may sound simple, but have simple conversations with your children works wonders. Take advantage of “teachable moments” when you can share with your kids what they should, and should not, do in situations. Don’t allow the fact that they may not be listening deter you, just continue to communicate with them so they will feel comfortable coming to you when they need to talk.
-Keep the computer in an open environment. Placing the computer in the family room will diminish your child’s opportunity for private chatting. Doing so will always allow you to see what they are doing on the computer.
-Review your child’s cell phone records. Doing this will help you to monitor calls sent and received. It also gives you an idea about what they are discussing via text messages and with whom.
If you find that a sexual predator has contacted your child, contact your local authorities. The sooner you can report the incident, the sooner you can disconnect that person’s contact with your child.
Candance L. Greene is Editor for Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. Her work has been published in several anthologies including Bittersweet: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry; Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction; and Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir, and the Huffington Post. She is the founder of Cherishedflight Communications, LLC, an editing and writing service. Visit her website at www.cherishedflight.com and follow her on Facebook: cherishedflightcommunications and Twitter @cherishedflight.
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