One of the most common threats to children are online predators. It’s estimated there are more than 5 million predators actively online. They typically seek out their victims in chat rooms, where they can find out a child’s name, where she lives and goes to school,and what activities she likes in a matter of minutes. If your child is in a chat room designated for children under 18, there is a 50 percent chance that the person he or she is communicating with is a sexual predator logged in under a false identity.Even more alarming is the statistic that shows 75 percent of children are willing to share their personal information with a stranger online, which is exactly what the sexual predator is looking for.
Once the predator befriends the child, they may ask her if they can be added to the child’s instant messenger or buddy list. This way they can tell each time the child is online. Over time, the predator will develop a relationship with the child and build their trust. They will ask the child to keep their relationship a secret, especially from their parents and family members. At some point, the predator will try to move the relation-ship to the next phase: a face-to-face meeting, often for a sexual encounter.While most parents believe their child would never set up a meeting with someone they’ve met online, the facts show otherwise. Thirty percent of teens have considered meeting someone they’ve chatted with, while 14 percent have actually had such an encounter.
To learn ways to help keep your child safe online add the Virtual Virus issue to your MASK Library.
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