Article written by Sergiu Bumbacea and Filip Popescu M.Sc.
Hi everyone! Welcome back to our blog! Today we will talk about how you can protect your kids from sexual predators.
Thanks to the global lockdown, a large portion of the day is being spent online, whether it is for work – in the case of parents, or chatting to friends and actively engaging with social media platforms – in the case of children.
This, however, is also the opportune time for sexual predators to take advantage of the increased time that children spend on social media networks, as well as the higher volumes of content that they tend to post.
We will explain you how an online child predator looks like and we will give you some tips for keeping your child safe on the internet.
1. The predator earns the child’s trust through compliments, shared interests, and liking or commenting on their posts. At Bark, you can see this process takes anywhere from hours to months. Read more about this application in our blog post here.
2. After developing a positive rapport with the child, the predator aims to determine how involved the parents are.
3. The abuser attempts to normalize the sexual behavior he or she is seeking. For example, they might send the child unsolicited explicit images of himself/herself.
4. The predator attempts to achieve their goal by asking for explicit photos, meeting in person, engaging in role-play, or blackmailing the victim for financial gain.
Where does predatory behavior take place online nowadays?
Find more information about Bark application and online predators here.
“How can I keep my child safe on the internet?” This is a common question, and we will give you some tips and tricks for making your child’ life easier and safer.
Make clear that some online predators are old men or women pretending to be kids, or they can be even young adults or teenagers. It may help to show your child news stories about predators who met kids through social networks or gaming platforms.
They must be warned not to respond to the advances of strangers online and be taught what to do, if it happens: such as not to disclose any personal information, including their real name, date of birth, phone number, address, school, as well as pictures of their home, street, school or playgrounds. Also, you can show them how to block strangers and others on their social media platforms and help them to understand that they are not at fault (and that they won’t get into trouble) if they report an incident.
Kids should be warned never to take images of themselves that they wouldn’t want seen by all of their classmates. Or their teachers. Make it clear to your child that if someone asks for a provocative picture, your child must stop typing, log off and tell a trusted adult.
No one wants to spy on their children. But if you suspect your child is hiding a risky relationship, you might want to consider installing software to monitor her online activities or gain access to instant messages.
Let her/him know that she/he can tell you anything and you won’t get mad even if she/he broke a rule.
For younger children, you might also consider checking browser histories after your child has been online to see what sites they are visiting.
Make sure you become friends and contacts within your child’s social media circles and ensure you monitor posts.
Most apps, networks and devices have geo-tagging features which make your location public and can lead someone directly to you. These features should be turned off for obvious privacy and safety reasons.
Lead by example and always model the kind of positive online behaviour you would like your children to use. If they see you being cautious and respectable when you are online, they are more likely to follow in your footsteps. And, yes, this includes limiting your own screen time. Check our post about screen time and see what your child can do to limit their screen time!
The first step is to remain nonjudgmental and reassure your children that they are not in trouble.
The best thing to do is to set strong passwords, and change them often. Use antivirus protection, turn off location services (unless you want to track your child’s movements) and check your browser setting for cookies, so that they can’t gather personal information about your
Hosting an e-safety session is an effective way for a school to deal with the issue of online predators. E-safety sessions are led by cyber safety experts, people who know about the various dangers of the internet (such as cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying, online predators, and
e-personation) and how to combat them.
We hope that these information helped you and that you or your child won’t be an online predator victim!
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