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Section 7
Prevention from Online Predators

Question 7 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed concepts related to the unique world of internet pedophilia and educating the victimized family with these concepts.  These concepts included:  accessibility; anonymity; and lack of consequences.

In this section, we will examine steps that parents can take to ensure the safety of their children in the future.  These steps include:  relocating the computer; educating the child; and becoming computer savvy. 

Have you, like I, found that many parents of sexually abused children wish to completely ban them from the internet for the rest of their lives?  Obviously, in our fast-paced world, this is not always the perfect solution.  In fact, this may isolate the child and make it more difficult for him or her to assimilate back into his or her own society.  They will become too afraid to trust anyone and this will result in a more emotionally damaged child than the parents had expected.  To counteract this, I suggest to these parents to allow their child access to the internet, but with obvious restrictions.  What is your opinion? 

3 Steps for Parents to Ensure Safety

♦ Step #1 - Relocating the Computer
The first step is relocating the computer to a room which the entire family shares.  A teen who willingly seeks out people online will be less eager to do so when a parent or older sibling might at any time look over his or her shoulder.  Also, the parent can better monitor the teen’s online time, and limit it accordingly. 

Susan, age 13, had been sexually abused by a 26 year old after meeting him through a message board.  This encounter had been able to come to fruition because the computer the family shared was in the basement.  Susan would simply sneak downstairs at night to have hours-long conversations with her unknown flirtation.  The parents, Greg and Caroline, moved the computer upstairs to the living room, which was occupied by themselves and Susan’s four protective older brothers. 

Also, when the parents were not at home, they detached the cable connecting the computer to the internet and took it with them.  Susan resisted at first.  Caroline stated, "She threw such fits, I thought she would bring down the house.  After a couple months, though, she would still grumble, but she accepted the rules, especially since our sons also actively took part."  As you can see, the entire family worked as a unit to monitor Susan’s online activity.  Think of your Susan.  Would relocating the computer prevent another incident of sexual abuse from an online predator?

♦ Step #2 - Educating the Child Client
The second step is educating the child client about how to protect themselves while online.  Most pre-teens, when first introduced to the internet at an early age, do not understand its potential.  Mainly, they do not predict that they will be meeting such friendly and influential personalities.  This unlooked-for social outlet seduces the unknowing child. 

Torii, age 11, was sexually abused when she unwittingly gave one of her online "friends" her address.  Torii had stated, "He said he wanted to send me real letters."  The perpetrator, a 35 year old man living in the area, broke into the house and raped Torii.  To avoid this kind of incident from happening, I asked that her parents, Jill and Tom, to educate Torii and their other two younger children about how to handle people that approach them online.  Below is a list of several key ideas that the two parents emphasized to their children:

  1. Everyone you meet online is a stranger—even your "friends."  A stranger is a stranger until you know them well and have your parents’ approval.  That cannot happen until you meet face to face.  Online friends are still strangers because you have not met them in person.
  2. Don’t give out personal information online to strangers.  Avoid giving out your family name, home phone numbers, or your address to strangers online.
  3. Don’t even think about meeting offline without discussing it with your parents.  If they want to meet you alone, be suspicious.  If they don’t want you to tell your parents about them, be suspicious.  Involve your parents just like with school friends.

Think of your Jill and Tom.  Would educating their younger children make them feel more secure about internet usage?

♦ Step #3 - Becoming Computer Savvy
In addition to relocating the computer and educating the child, the third step is becoming computer savvy.  It has become a widely-known concept that teens and pre-teens know more about how the internet works than their parents.  As a result, they take advantage of this ignorance and use it to get around certain rules and regulations.  For parents of resistant children, such as Susan, I suggest the parents become more knowledgeable about computers and how they work. 

More importantly, they should know more than their children so as to head off any dissident behavior.  Mark and Kim had no computer knowledge whatsoever.  Their 14-year-old son Brandon, however, was a computer whiz kid.  He played numerous games online and won most of them.  However, one of Brandon’s "game friends" wanted to arrange a meeting.  When they did meet, the game friend was really a 32 year old man who led Brandon to the back of the mall, where he raped him.  Even though the event traumatized Brandon, he still would not give up his favorite games altogether. 

To monitor his activity and to understand the kinds of situations he could get himself into, Mark and Kim attended night classes at a local community college designed to educate parents about computer usage.  They also bought several tutorials and began to use the internet themselves.  Instead of being completely in the dark about their son’s habits, Mark and Kim could now monitor all his conversations with his game friends and quickly detect any possible dangerous characters.  They then address their son immediately. 

Think of your Mark and Kim.  Could educating themselves about the internet help them to protect their son or daughter?

In this section, we discussed steps that parents can take to ensure the safety of their children in the future.  These steps include:  relocating the computer; educating the child; and becoming computer savvy. 

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Bailey, J. M., Bernhard, P. A., & Hsu, K. J. (2016). An Internet study of men sexually attracted to children: Correlates of sexual offending against children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(7), 989–1000.

Eher, R., Olver, M. E., Heurix, I., Schilling, F., & Rettenberger, M. (2015). Predicting reoffense in pedophilic child molesters by clinical diagnoses and risk assessment. Law and Human Behavior, 39(6), 571–580. 

Grady, M. D., Levenson, J. S., Mesias, G., Kavanagh, S., & Charles, J. (2019). “I can’t talk about that”: Stigma and fear as barriers to preventive services for minor-attracted persons. Stigma and Health, 4(4), 400–410.

Grady, M. D., & Levenson, J. S. (2021). Prevalence rates of adverse childhood experiences in a sample of minor-attracted persons: A comparison study. Traumatology, 27(2), 227–235.

Grubbs, J. B., Kraus, S. W., Perry, S. L., Lewczuk, K., & Gola, M. (2020). Moral incongruence and compulsive sexual behavior: Results from cross-sectional interactions and parallel growth curve analyses. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 129(3), 266–278.

Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K. J., & Ybarra, M. L. (2008). Online "predators" and their victims: Myths, realities, and implications for prevention and treatment. American Psychologist, 63(2), 111–128. 

What are three steps that parents can take to ensure the safety of their children in the future? To select and enter your answer go to Test

Section 8
Table of Contents