December 21, 2005
Internet requires vigilance by parents
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
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
Integrity-centered parental leadership, including active
and informed involvement, is the key.
Bold and supportive parents will help bring Internet predators