Minimize the Risks
- Always maintain access to your child’s online account and randomly check his/her email. Be aware that your child could be contacted through the U.S. Mail. Be up front with your child about your access and reasons why.
- Communicate, and talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential online danger.
- Find out what computer safeguards are utilized by your child’s school, the public library, and at the homes of your child’s friends. These are all places, outside your normal supervision, where your child could encounter an online predator.
- Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child’s bedroom. It is much more difficult for a computer-sex offender to communicate with a child when the computer screen is visible to a parent or another member of the household.
- Spend time with your children online. Have them teach you about their favorite online destinations.
- Teach your child the responsible use of the resources online. There is much more to the online experience than chat rooms.
- Understand, even if your child was a willing participant in any form of sexual exploitation, that he/she is not at fault and is the victim. The offender always bears the complete responsibility for his or her actions.
- Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software. While electronic chat can be a great place for children to make new friends and discuss various topics of interest, it is also prowled by computer-sex offenders. Use of chat rooms, in particular, should be heavily monitored. While parents should utilize these mechanisms, they should not totally rely on them.
Instruct Your Children
- That whatever they are told online may or may not be true.
- To never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line;
- To never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images;
- To never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number;
- To never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing;
- To never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the internet or online service to people they do not personally know;