Protecting Your Kids from Internet Predators

Cyberspace is a dangerous place for teens and preteens; here are some tips to keep them safe online

If you were picking your adolescent up from school one day and noticed a 50-year-old stranger in the bushes snapping pictures of her as she walked by, what would you do? You'd become incensed, right? You'd involve the police and demand something be done. In the days and weeks following that incident, you'd probably start walking her to the fence around the schoolyard and waiting until she was safely inside—at least until you knew for sure the creep was locked up.

A child predator needs nothing more than a computer to gain access into a child's life. There is no fence to keep him out or monitoring in place other than your alert attention and whatever protections you instill. Recent studies show that one in seven youngsters has experienced unwanted sexual solicitations online, and one in three has been exposed to unwanted sexual material online.

We've all seen the sting-operation television shows. We watch in complete fascination as 40-year-old doctors, pastors, teachers, show up to have sex with 13-year-old girls. But in case you're unaware of the types of Internet activity that lead up to these liaisons, take a look at the following small portion of a real chat log used by Perverted Justice for Dateline NBC's To Catch a Predator:

talldreamy_doc: hi how are you

crazy_frazy2005: fabu. u?

crazy_frazy2005: ur a dr?

talldreamy_doc: yeah

crazy_frazy2005: kewl

crazy_frazy2005: what kind?

talldreamy_doc: adults

crazy_frazy2005: like... old people?

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May 25

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