Integrity Matters
December 21, 2005

Internet requires vigilance by parents

Question: (E-214)

Dear Jim:

Sexual predators are one internet keystroke from making contact with our children. What can be done?


First of all, it's important to understand the risks. Law enforcement officials estimate that 50,000 predators are online at any given moment. Michele Collins of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says one in five young people has been sexually solicited. Her organization launched an ad campaign aimed at educating teens.

But with 77 million computer-savvy children across the country, that's a major challenge. Parents need to step up and take responsibility for their own kids as well. Here are some recommendations:

  • Pay attention. Televisions have "blocking keys," but cell phones and computers lack governing mechanisms and are able to send tastelessness filth and perversion - directly into the eyes, minds and lives of children.
  • Use tools. Take advantage of internet blocking software that can help prevent a child from giving out personal information. If something feels wrong, then check it out.
  • Keep communication lines open. When something unsettling happens online, responsible adults offer assistance. Predatory activities include: sexual solicitation or the sending of sexually explicit images by someone who knows that the child is under the age of 18; or the receiving of child pornography, by anyone in the household. The FBI cautions that if one of these scenarios occurs, keep the computer turned off in order to preserve any evidence for future law-enforcement use. Unless directed to do so by the law-enforcement agency, you should not attempt to copy any of the images and/or text found on the computer. Internet crime is a crime like any other and should be reported to the proper local, state, or federal authorities.
  • Don't wait. Contact local law-enforcement. Use the CyberTipline at (800) 843-5678, which is managed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • Seek a balance. Weigh the threat of exposure to inappropriate and harmful Internet involvement against the benefits gained from the constructive gateways it provides.

Integrity-centered parental leadership, including active and informed involvement, is the key.

Bold and supportive parents will help bring Internet predators to justice.

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