Tips for Parents

PARENTS, your children should:

  • Never arrange a face-to-face or phone meeting with someone they met online
  • Never upload pictures of themselves to people that they do not personally know
  • Never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name or telephone number
  • Never download pictures from unknown sources (there is a good chance they could be sexually explicit images or contain viruses)
  • Never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent or harassing
  • Understand that whatever they are told online -- "may, or may not be true"!

Signs your child may be in danger:

  • Your child spends large amounts of time online, especially at night
  • You find pornography on your child's computer
  • Your child receives phone calls from people you don't know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don't recognize
  • Your child receives mail, gifts or packages from someone you don't know
  • Your child turns the computer monitor off, or quickly changes the screen on the monitor, when you come into the room
  • Your child becomes withdrawn from the family
  • Your child is using an online account belonging to someone else
  • Your child willingly engages in or posts suggestive comments online
  • Your child posts suggestive and or provocative pictures of his or herself online

How to minimize the chances of an online predator victimizing your child:

  • Communicate and talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential online dangers
  • Spend time with your children online and have them teach you about their favorite online destinations
  • Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child's bedroom - it is much more difficult for a computer-sex offender to communicate with a child when the computer screen is visible to a parent or another member of the household
  • Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software - While parents should utilize these mechanisms, they should not totally rely on them
  • While electronic chat can be a great place for children to make new friends and discuss various topics of interest, it is also prowled by computer-sex-offenders - use of chat rooms, in particular, should be heavily monitored
  • Always maintain access to your child's online account and randomly check his/her email and cell phone text messages - be aware that your child could also be contacted through the US Mail
  • Be up front with your child about your access and reasons why
  • Teach your child the responsible use of the resources online - there is much more to the online experience than chat rooms and social networking sites
  • Use the CyberTipline to report child sexual exploitation