It’s almost impossible to exist offline these days. Even infants are learning how to use smartphones and tablets. At one point, most kids yearn to be like their favorite YouTube stars, and many have their own channels. They communicate with their friends online and all you can do is hope that those are the only people they’re talking with.
There are plenty of dangers in the online world, but nothing scares parents like child predators. Especially those who prey on children in their own homes. The scariest part is while convicted child predators face restrictions after they serve their (often very short) time, there is not enough oversight to ensure these monsters are not accessing the internet.
Here are some of the raw facts about online child predators that every parent needs to know.
Many Child Predators Are Never Caught
We cringe when a beloved teacher, soccer coach, or other trusted adult is brought into the light for having child porn or otherwise having hurt a child. For every one caught, there are a dozen more still lurking in the darkness.
Heinous Charges Get Pleaded Down
If an offender has a good enough lawyer, even the worst crimes committed against children are pleaded down to misdemeanors or low-level felonies. This allows these criminals to slip through the cracks and get back to offending.
There Is Not Enough Manpower To Track Them
Child predators that move to a different state, or drops off the grid are hard to find. There are limited resources available to law enforcement agencies to hunt down and find these individuals. In 2018, Misourri alone lost track of 1,200 sex offenders.
Time Is On Their Side
It often takes years for a child victim of sexual abuse to come forward. In many states, by the time the statute of limitations has ended, there is no legal recourse against these individuals and no way to track them.
They Can Still Get Online
Sex offenders are not allowed to use computers or devices that access the internet, but how often do criminals follow the law? Once online, they create fake profiles and pose as children to lure others on apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Kik and more. Soon after they’ll exchange numbers and text the child directly.
What’s A Parent To Do?
Be vigilant. Know who your kids are talking to online and let them know the dangers. They must realize that not everyone online is who they say they are.
Here are some internet child safety tips:
- Make them earn their privacy. Let them know that you can look at their phone at any time.
- Teach them about things “normal kids” won’t ask them to do like send naughty pictures, or ask them about things like sex.
- Teach them about the dangers out there. Be honest about what can happen.
- Encourage your children to not keep secrets. This goes in the house as well. Children have a difficult time distinguishing from small and big secrets. Make it a house rule that there are no secrets between family, especially secrets that hurt.
- Remind your kids that you can always protect them. And if someone threatens your child or their siblings or you, let them know they should tell you about it right away.
- Restrict their online activity and privacy settings. Always approve their friends and followers on social media.
- Restrict their YouTube and other social posting. Make sure they aren’t unintentionally giving away information like the school they go to or where they live. Monitor comments to their posts to screen for anything inappropriate.
- Remember you are the parent. If your gut is telling you something is off or are uncomfortable with your child participating on a certain social media platform, it is okay to pull the plug.
- Connect with the parents of your child’s online friends. Creating a network of parents to monitor online behavior will help keep your kids safe and give you peace of mind.
Always Trust Your Gut
If you see a suspicious number on their phone or suspect one of their “friends” doesn’t seem right, remember to always trust your gut! Doing a reverse phone lookup or even going as far as doing a background check can help keep your child safe.
Give Them The Right Tools
Give boys and girls the tools to be safe so they can have fun online without you worrying. They will need to be online as an adult. They should learn to navigate not only the internet world, but the real world as well. As their parent, it is your job to guide them. It is possible for a safe internet experience for your child, you just need to pave the way. Child predators are not going away anytime soon so you must be ever vigilant in making sure you monitor your kid’s behavior online.