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When it comes to keeping our kids safe online, we think we are doing everything we can to protect them. Unfortunately, the danger may be a lot closer than you realize and in places that you might not have considered possible. When it comes to child predators, there are a few things that every parent needs to know. 

The Predator Next Door: Beginning Stages

The sex traffic trade has grown exponentially over the past couple of decades, and parents are discovering that some of their peers and even professionals they trust with their children could be involved. This, of course, is an exception and not the rule, but the number of perpetrators continues to rise and that is cause for concern. 

American men are among the highest in predators among young children. This ever-increasing issue has been compounded by law enforcement’s inability to keep pace with demand, leading to higher numbers of children being victimized. 

What seems to be the driving force behind the victimization of children is the sexual awakening of the predator themselves. The age at which they began to crave or desire certain sexual preferences is the age that they tend to stick with. However, some of them will move to a lower age, finding victims that are less likely to speak out against the abuse. Whatever it was that led to this behavior in the first place is still up for debate, but one thing we do know is that thrill and arousal are the driving forces behind the child predator. 

Some experts will argue that a predator was targeted themself at a young age, and while this may be true in some cases, additional research is proving that this is not always the case. Finding the common denominator is still an area that is being studied and debated among law enforcement agencies and psychologists, but the growing demand and rampant use of online pornography is hard to ignore. 

What Parents Need to Know

With the rise of internet usage among younger children through games and mobile phone access, predators are finding it easier to target and lure these youngsters. Adults are posing as children to gain the trust of younger users, building a relationship of trust, then luring them to a location where they can meet in person. Not all of these children disappear, but they each have a story and some sort of abuse of power.  

Sadly, trusted professionals, such as doctors, teachers, and lawyers, are sometimes involved. While parents feel that they can trust their pediatrician or school teacher completely, one should always exercise caution. Most predators do not act the same or follow the same rule book, so if you ever feel like something is off, trust your instincts. More often than not you will be right.  

Here are a few things to keep watch for:

  • Know who your children are talking to online – A good rule of thumb is that if you do not know them in person, they are not allowed to be talking to your child. You are not a helicopter parent if you listen to some of the conversations that kids are having while playing online games through their gaming systems or phones. Track texts, phone calls from numbers you are not aware of, and messages on online communities. Browsing a device’s history can also give a good idea of what your child is up to online, and who they are talking to. 
  • Be wary of anyone who is overly interested in you and your child’s life – This can be something as simple as asking too many questions about your romantic life, friends, ties to the community, and so on. If you are not comfortable with the questions, it’s okay to not answer them. Have a conversation with your child about what they can and cannot discuss outside the home. 
  • The camaraderie between another adult and your child Whenever you hear phrases such as “parents can be harsh,” “sometimes they forget what it is like to be a child,”  “you are old enough to do these things on your own,” or any other comment that diminishes a parents role in a child’s life, it should raise a red flag. Predators try to establish a “cool” relationship with your child so they feel as though they can confide in them and are less likely to open up or share information with you. 
  • The constant questioning of your parenting style – Comments such as “you are such a helicopter mom” and others may cause a parent to react by “backing off or “getting out” of their child’s private lives. Don’t fall for it. Parents should know their children better than anyone else and these tactics are used specifically to lessen your attentiveness so it is easier for a predator to get closer to them
  • Claims of lying or other issues  – Many times these kinds of “issues” tend to be minor but often lead parents to question other statements from their children. Never be afraid to ask for more details and compare the stories. Even though many tend to trust the adult over a child, never dismiss any claims of abuse as “attention-seeking.” 

Abuse and exploitation of children is never a pleasant topic to discuss, let alone imagine happening to one of our own. No parent ever wants to deal with the heartbreaking effects of abuse which is why it is so important to talk with your children and monitor their online behavior.  Being open and taking a proactive approach to these problems will go a long way and ensure that your children stay safe and out of harm’s way. 

Keeping your children safe online is one of the best and easiest steps we can take to ensure their protection from potential threats. The CleanerNet parental control router, when combined with the app, puts you in control of the internet in your home and on the devices your children use each day. Send us a message to learn more now!