New Year, new resolutions, right?Healthy habits, exercising, and drinking more water may be on your list, but if you are a parent,one of those resolutions should be to keep your child safer by educating them on the dangers of predators.Talk to Your KidsIt’s unfortunate that this is a topic parents must address, but child predators never stop. From online grooming, sextortion, and eventually real-life meetings, these predators are constantly searching for their next victims. Most online predators are grooming over 10 victims at a time.
- Remind your child that everything posted on the internet and even messages sent through their phone, could get into the wrong hands, and used against them.
- Teach them to respect their bodies and not share any compromising photos of themselves or other kids.
- Remind them to not share any personal information with those they do not know in real life.
- If they get a text or message online from a “stranger” or new “friend” that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared, they should immediately come to you so you can take action.
SextortionAccording to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), over the past year, law enforcement received over 7,000 reports related to the online sextortion of minors, resulting in at least 3,000 victims, primarily boys, and more than a dozen suicides. And that is only the number of those that came forward to report it. A lot of victims are too scared or embarrassed to let anyone know.Using social media platforms, chat rooms, and online games, predators will create fake accounts and begin a conversation, learning which children are lonely, seeking attention, or most vulnerable. Once a child partakes in that conversation, the predator will earn their trust and eventually persuade them to send inappropriate photos or video.Child predators will then tell the child if they do not send money or do something more inappropriate, they will share it with their friends and family. This is sextortion.If Your Child is A Victim of SextortionThe National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has outlined steps parents and young people can take if they or their child are a victim of sextortion, including:
- Remember, the predator is to blame, not your child or you.
- Get help before deciding whether to pay money or otherwise comply with the predator.
- Cooperating or paying rarely stops the blackmail and continued harassment.
- REPORT the predator’s account via the platform’s safety feature.
- BLOCK the predator and DO NOT DELETE the profile or messages because that can be helpful to law enforcement in identifying and stopping them.
- Let NCMEC help get explicit images of you off the internet.
- Visit cybertipline.org to report to the FBI for help with the process.
- Ask for help. This can be a very complex problem and may require help from adults or law enforcement.
- If children don’t feel they have adults in their corner, they can reach out to NCMEC for support at email@example.com or call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST.
If young people are being exploited, they are victims of a crime and should report it. Contact your local FBI field office, call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report it online at tips.fbi.gov.We Can HelpParents need to know who their kids are talking to. Download the OffenderWatch family safety app. With the Family Watch subscription, parents can receive alerts if a registered sex offender contacts their child via text, call, or email, track their child’s phone, and get notified if their child lingers near an offender’s residence for a prolonged period.www.offenderwatch.com/offenderwatch-family-safety-app.It is everyone’s job to work together to prevent the unthinkable.