Internet Safety For
The Internet has opened up a virtual world of information
for anyone with a computer and an on-line connection. Children not only learn
about computers, but are able to access more information from more sources more
quickly than from any other medium. However, children need to learn the rules of
the road, and learn how to protect themselves from the pedophiles, abusers, and
con artists that may be lurking behind their screen. With a little bit of
planning and appropriate adult supervision, children can explore and learn while
minimizing, or eliminating the dangers of being abused or exploited.
|Just like in a park or public place, a child's best defense is a sound
value system and a plan. Teach your children about exploitation,
pornography, hate literature, and violence. Teach them what to do when something
they see is troubling or bothersome to them.
|Set aside time to explore the Internet together. That way, you can set the
examples of how suspicious messages or people are appropriately handled, and
you may be better informed yourself.
|Monitor your children when they are on line. If your child becomes uneasy
or defensive when you enter the room, it might mean that they are involved
in something unusual or forbidden.
|Choose an Internet Provider that has parental control features, and learn
how to use them. Or, you may purchase commercial blocking software to screen
out sites by content and key words you find objectionable. Such blocking is
very effective, and is already done by local libraries and schools.
|Tell children NEVER to give out personal information, such as address,
telephone number, or their parent's name. They should NEVER send pictures of
themselves to anyone they don't know, or that YOU have not met in person.
|Assume NOTHING about anyone you or your child may meet on-line. Pedophiles
and con artists can easily assume the on-line identity, language and
apparent interests of a child of any age and sex in order to lure and entice
them to respond as they might to a real person. Unless you have met someone
in person, what appears to be a chatty 15-year- old girl might actually be a
45-year-old male pedophile.|
If you or your child comes across material that you find pornographic,
threatening, or otherwise offensive, it might well be a violation of law. Save
the material, and contact your local law enforcement agency.
Another resource is the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children.
They function as a national clearinghouse for tips and leads reguarding the
sexual exploitation of children. You can call the 24-hour Child Pornography
Tipline at 1-800-843-5678, or make your reports on-line at their website, www.missingkids.com/cybertip.
They will compile and forward the information to the appropriate state, federal,
or local law enforcement agency for action.