Predators are no longer interested in a “one time sexual encounter,” with children, they are hoping for more and they are putting in the work. Many predators spend months and even years following a child online with the hopes of forming a long term relationship. Law enforcement also states that arrests spike in the summer months when children are out of school.
Predators are looking to “get in where they fit in.” Stalking children is a full-time job for predators. They spend hours monitoring a child’s online conversation, photo’s, activities, likes and dislikes. Predators will then contact a child when they feel they are most vulnerable and use the collected data to groom the child. For example, I had an opportunity to speak to high school parents and students about online safety, and one mom shared a heartbreaking story. Unfortunately the mom and her teen were not getting along, and the teen decided to post online that she hated her mom and that no one understood her. This is where the predator finally saw his in… He contacted her and instantly made a connection through her issues and interests as he had been stalking her for months. The young lady was lured from her home, raped, and her life has forever been changed.
Bottom-line: Parents must be vigilante with monitoring their child’s online interactions. As parents we cannot “passively” sit and “hope” that our children are safe online. Get in their business, monitor their online activity and ask questions. Of course, I could give you a million technical tips on keeping your children safe online, however the most important “offline” activity is communication. Open communication about online safety, setting expectations, boundaries, self-esteem, and consequences could potentially save your child’s life. If a predator spends months stalking children, I think it’s safe to say that parents can at least take a few hours to monitor their child’s online and offline activities.
Check out this very informative story on online predators:
Marlin Page is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, Technology Strategist- empowering women and girls in STEM and Life, and Excuse Annihilator. As Chief Technology Mommy, Marlin shares online safety news to keep parents informed of what’s happening in the “online” world. Marlin also currently serves as a speaker for Microsoft’s Global DigiGirlz Program, has been invited to lead a technology discussion at SXSW’s Interactive Festival, and serves as a speaker/panelist for a number of organizations. Marlin’s book and Music Single Always Believe, empowers girls to love themselves, believe in themselves, and celebrate their uniqueness.
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