Log in

Top Stories        News         Sports

Internet a potential landmine for children

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

GregCapersSheriffWhen I was growing up, my research into the world, past and present, came from books and other published materials available to me at the public library. When my teacher gave us an assignment, we knew that our next step was a visit to our public library where the Dewey Decimal System became our keyboard.

I think most people would agree that things have changed for the better. Improvements in technology have opened the minds of our children to limitless opportunities for learning through the internet. With those opportunities comes a level of danger with what is now known as internet exploitation.

The internet can expose children to dangers, such as individuals who attempt to sexually exploit children through the use of online services. Some of these individuals gradually seduce targets through the use of attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts. These individuals are often willing to devote considerable amounts of time, money, and energy to this process.

They will attempt to gradually lower children’s inhibitions by slowly introducing sexual context and content into their conversations. There are other individuals, however, who immediately engage in sexually explicit conversation with children.

Some offenders primarily collect and trade child pornographic images, while others seek face-to-face meetings. It’s important for parents to understand that children can be indirectly victimized through conversation, or chat, as well as the transfer of sexually explicit material.

Computer-sex offenders may also be evaluating children they meet online for future face-to-face contact and direct victimization. Parents and children should remember that a sex offender can be any age or sex. The person does not have to fit the caricature of a unkept older man, wearing a raincoat to be someone who could harm a child.

What are signs that your child might be at risk online:

•Your child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night.

•You find pornography on your child’s computer.

•Your child receives phone calls from people you don’t know or is making calls, sometimes long distances to numbers you don’t recognize.

•Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don’t know.

•Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.

•Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.

•Your child is using an online account belonging to someone else.

What should you do if you suspect your child is communicating with a sexual predator online:

•Consider talking openly with your child about your suspicions.

•Review what is on your child’s computer.

•Use caller ID service to determine who is calling your child.

•Devices can be purchased that show telephone numbers that have been dialed from your home.

•Monitor your child’s access to all types of electronic communications and monitor your child’s email.

Should any of the following situation arise in your household via the internet or online service you should immediately contact my office’s non-emergency number at (936) 653-4367, the FBI, (713-693-5000) or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, (24-hour call center 1-800-843 5678) if:

•Your child, or anyone in the household has received child pornography.

•Your child has been sexually solicited by someone who knows that your child is under 18 years of age.

What can you do to minimize the chances of an online exploiter victimizing your child:

•Talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential online danger.

•Spend time with your children online. Have them teach you about their favorite online destinations.

•Keep the computer in the common room in the house. Not in your child’s bedroom.

•Utilize parental controls provided by your internet service provider and or blocking software.

•Always maintain access to your child’s online account and randomly check their email.

•Find out what computer safeguards are utilized by your child’s school, the public library, and at the home of your child’s friends.

•Understand, even if your child was a participant in any form of sexual exploitation, that they are not at fault.

•Instruct your child to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met online.

•Instruct your child to never upload pictures of themselves onto the Internet or online service to people they do not personally know.

•Instruct your child to never give out identifying information, such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number.

•Instruct your child to never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance, they could be sexually explicit images.

•Instruct your child to never respond to messages of bulletin board postings that are suggestive.

These are but a few things I believe will assist you in safeguarding your children. Remember, our children may be good and well-intentioned, but unfortunately, there are those evil doers out there that will attempt to find ways to enter your child life using the internet. They are well versed and very sophisticated in lowering children’s guard.

Please be mindful of this information and be open with your children and make this a regular discussion item when you and your child are relaxed. Include all members of the family.

As always, I hope you find this information informative as well as helpful. Should you need additional information on the specifics of the subject, or any other subject please feel free to reach out to my office by calling my nonemergency number (936) 653-4367 and ask the dispatcher for assistance.

Greg Capers is Sheriff of San Jacinto County.

Say something here...
symbols left.
You are a guest
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.

Be the first to comment.