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How your child can be trapped online by a sexual predator.

Amy was only 15 years old when she travelled out of her state to meet a sexual predator who had groomed, her. Does this mean that Amy wasn’t cared for or loved enough by her parents? Should child protective services deem them, irresponsible parents? Certainly not! This can or may have even already happened to any of our children and we wouldn’t even know it! This brings me to question how we can protect them. If truly knowledge is power, then get ready to show off your guns ? and thank us later 😉

The following are ways predators select their victims:

1. Their Gender:

Mothers, hide your daughters; research by has it that adolescent girls are more likely to be targeted and groomed online than their male counterparts. In a Quayle & Newman (2016) case study of online grooming reports in the UK, 85.89% of victims between the ages of 9 – 17 are female.

2. Their Self-Esteem:

Predators apparently really like children who display lack confidence or have low self-esteem. They are ideally easier to physically or emotionally isolate, manipulate and would generally be more open to someone who ‘gets what they are going through’. This is important to predators because statistics show that how a young person reacts to the acts of an abuser goes a long way in determining if the sex act will follow.

Wondering how the predator would be able to tell the self-esteem? Just know that;
a. A person’s social media profile is an expression of their personality.
b. The internet makes everything so easy. Including the negative things. Anyone can easily deduce the self-esteem of a child from their interests and type of posts they make which is conveniently located on their profile.

3. Through Broadcast Messages:

Much like how companies send out newsletters or how spammers email you, groomers collect a master list of children in the area. Send out multiple messages to as many young people as possible until a child responds in the way they want – you’d be surprised the number of children that do. This brings us to point number 4.

4. Their Sexual Curiosity:

Because the ideal victim is one who is sexually curious, vulnerable and impressionable, it is important that we educate our children about sex in an age-appropriate manner, so they are not swayed by this mysterious person online who ‘gets them’ and is ‘so knowledgeable’. Don’t make it too easy for the predators. If they are also very sexually curious, they would respond eagerly to the predator’s requests.

5. Their Social Media Account

As explained in point number 2, the importance of not allowing your children to reveal too much about themselves on social media cannot be overemphasized.

A 2016 research by Quayle & Newman showed that in order to maximize the likelihood of contact and to fulfil their need for intimacy, offenders view the profile of their victims, and align their grooming tactics with the profile. The offenders also used this to screen the masses and decide whom they would contact. This is why it is extra important to ensure that your child’s social media account has the appropriate privacy setting. Here’s How {insert hypertext link to another article, ‘how to protect your child’s social media accounts}

It is important to note that when looking for a target, the groomer focuses on accessibility (How accessible is the child, is it easy to contact them or view their status and profiles); opportunity (are they in the same region? Neglected by parents?); And vulnerability (How easy is it to persuade them to do things? How impressionable are they?)

 

How to Prevent Your Child From being a Victim

But how do I prevent my child or teenager from being a victim? Here are 7 simple steps, I call them PIMBERS:

1. Privacy:

The first thing you should do is adjust the privacy setting on your child’s social media accounts. Every app has privacy settings. This would not allow strangers and predators to find them.

2. Information:

do not give out personal information to individuals you do not know online and be sure to teach your children to do the same. This is important because even if a stranger is able to get past the privacy setting, they would not be able to extract and use personal information against you.

It is also important to educate your children that not all information found online is accurate and reliable.

3. Meeting:

Be certain of where your child is going and who he/she is going to meet. Make sure they know not to meet with ‘online friends’ without a trusted adult accompanying them.

4. Block:

Let your child know, the block button is your friend. Do not be afraid to use the block button. Apps nowadays have the function usually referred to as ‘block’ this allows the user to restrict certain other users’ access to their own account and information. It also allows you to restrict the content your child can view on the apps.

This is a protective measure that comes in handy when your child receives unsolicited sexual messages, images or offensive content. It will remove the senders’ ability to contact or send your child messages again.

5. set an Example:

Lead by example. Ultimately as a parent, regardless of what you say, your child will still learn from your own actions. Practice internet safety and they will too! 🙂

6. Report:

If it is noticed that a user is displaying offensive behaviour or sending out offensive content, be sure to ‘report’ them. All apps have this feature as well. This would help keep the internet safe for our children.

7. Sex Talk:

Have the age-appropriate sex talk early enough and educate children on the dangers of the internet. This would limit the curiosity that would allow a predator to take advantage of them. Encourage your children to speak out on any inappropriate contact.

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