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Is my child in danger?

Most likely no.
But please read the following anyway

Children especially teenagers, are sometimes interested in and curious about sexuality and sexually explicit material.

They may be moving away from the total control of parents and seeking to establish new relationships outside their family.
Because they may be curious, children/teenagers sometimes use their on-line access to actively seek out such materials and individuals.

Sex offenders targeting children will use and exploit these characteristics and needs.

Teenagers may also be attracted to and lured by on-line offenders closer to their age who, although not technically child molesters, may be dangerous.
Nevertheless, they have been seduced and manipulated by a clever offender and do not fully understand or recognize the potential danger of these contacts.

What Are Signs That Your Child Might Be At Risk On-line?

Your child spends large amounts of time on-line, especially at night, and usually close or hide the page they looking at when you come into the room.

Most children that fall victim to computer-sex offenders spend large amounts of time on-line, particularly in chat rooms and on programs like Msn Messenger, now known as Windows Live Messenger,but also popular are Yahoo messenger, Aol chat software, Skype, KIK messenger and many others.

Children on-line are at the risk anytime of day or night.
Please do not assume just because adults work your child will only be in danger in the evenings and weekends.

If your child talks to or communicates with anyone you do not know personally find out who they are.

This is also important.
Please do not assume that there is danger everywhere, and that anyone older than your child is a predator, most people online even those who chat to people younger than them are doing so totally innocently
but it is possible so just be aware, learn the danger signs, and the most important thing to do is speak to your child, even if they are an older teenager.
If they have nothing to hide they won't mind showing you who they talk to and communicate with.

Please do not assume sex offenders are only male, this is just not true.
Predators are NOT only adult males, there are female sex offenders looking to communicate with children

Another thing to watch out for is older teenage males. They may only be a year or two older than your child but be aware they are the most likely to try and involve your child in something sexual, online or offline.

They often try and talk younger teenagers into going out with them,chatting sexually online and eventually meeting up and committing offences.
They do not see this as a crime, they assume because they are’nt much older than your child they are not committing an offence.

It is against the law to have any kind of sexual contact with anyone under 16 and sexual contact extends to sexual chats online. Your child needs to be told about this.

Another thing to remind your child of, is that sexual intercourse with anyone under 13 yrs old is rape in the eyes of the law, even if they consent to it and are willing.

These are things that probably terrify a lot of people reading this, and the suggestion you chat to your child about it terrifies you even more.
However it is imperative that you do so.

How would you feel if you discovered that that your 13/14/15 yr old daughter has had sex without your knowledge?
It is not unknown for people as young as 11 to indulge in sexual activities including sexual intercourse.
it happens and is a lot more widespread than most poeople realise or acknowledge.

Please do not try and hide the fact by not talking about it,

How would you feel if it was your child (male or female) that ended up arrested and charged maybe ending up in prison and definitely going oin the sex offenders register just for having sex with someone under 16? (maybe their girlfriend) just because you hadn't told them the facts about the law?

How would you feel if they got charged with rape because the other person was under 13? again it happens.

Most parents assume its only adults they have to warn their children about, this is a mistake, they must be warned about the dangers of sex, of meeting anyone you don't know, and most importantly the law.

For instance - did you know that it's now illegal to have any kind of picture either real or fake such as a cartoon if it depicts a child in a provocative pose?
This comes under the Sexual offences act 2003 and Section 45 of this act extended the definition of ”child“, for porn purposes, to anyone aged 16 or 17.
For the first time, it became illegal to possess images of perfectly legal sexual activity.
put in simple words it's illegal to have any indecent pictures of anyone under 18 real or drawings and illegal extends to children doing sexual "poses" even with clothes like swimwear on.

Japanese Manga is extremely popular with younger children, especially but not limited to thoe who practice or admire "Goths"
These are basically Japanese cartoons, however they are often drawn as younger people of indetermined age, but you would assume they are children, often they are in a sexual pose. This is now unlawful if it is determined the picture is meant to depict a person under 18 yrs of ageand anyone found with pictures like this on their computer phone or in print now risks arrest, a large fine and possibly prison.

The offences come under the Criminal Justice Act 2008 which makes it illegal to look at images of ”extreme porn“ the definition being open to interpretation and basically it depends on the view o fthe officer who sees the picture as to wether or not they will class it as illegal or not. The issue of whether the action is real or not is immaterial.

You find pornography on your child's computer.
Pornography is often used in the sexual victimization of children.
Sex offenders often supply their potential victims with pornography as a means of opening sexual discussions and for seduction.
Child pornography may be used to show the child victim that sex between children and adults is "normal."
Parents should be conscious of the fact that a child may hide the pornographic files on memory sticks, floppy discs or cd's.
This may be especially true if the computer is used by other family members.

Your child receives phone calls from men you don't know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don't recognize.
While talking to a child victim on-line is a thrill for a computer-sex offender, it can be very cumbersome, Some want to talk to the children on the telephone.
They often engage in "phone sex" with the children and often seek to set up an actual meeting for real sex.
While a child may be hesitant to give out his/her home phone number, the computer-sex offenders will give out theirs. With Caller ID, they can readily find out the child's phone number.
Some computer-sex offenders have even obtained free to call 0800 numbers, so that their potential victims can call them without their parents finding out.
Others will tell the child to call reverse charge.
Both of these methods result in the computer-sex offender being able to find out the child's phone number.

Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don't know.
As part of the seduction process, it is not unknown for offenders to send letters, photographs, and all manner of gifts to their potential victims.
Computer-sex offenders have even sent plane tickets in order for the child to travel across the country to meet them.

Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.
A child looking at pornographic images or having sexually explicit conversations will not want you to see it on the screen, if this often occurs, consider banning them from the net unless they let you view their activities, or install monitorinbg software.

Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
Computer-sex offenders will work very hard at driving a wedge between a child and their family or at exploiting their relationship.
They will accentuate any minor problems at home that the child might have. Children may also become withdrawn after sexual victimization.

Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else.
While this is rare, it has happened.
If you don't have Internet service, your child may meet an offender while on-line at a friend's house or the library.
Most computers come preloaded with on-line and/or Internet software. Computer-sex offenders will sometimes provide potential victims with a computer account for communications with them, therefore if your computer connects to the phone line in any way Please monitor what goes on, and consider installing monitoring software in the computer.

What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Communicating With A Sexual Predator On-line
  • Insist that all chat programs have the logging feature turned on, this way you can read everything that has been said by both people if you suspect anything suspicious may have happened.
  • Talk to your child about your suspicions. Tell them about the dangers of computer-sex offenders.
  • Review what is on your child's computer. If you don't know how, ask a friend, coworker, relative, or other knowledgeable person. Pornography or any kind of sexual communication can be a warning sign.
  • Use the Caller ID service to determine who is calling your child. Most telephone companies that offer Caller ID also offer a service that allows you to block your number from appearing on someone else's Caller ID. Telephone companies also offer an additional service feature that rejects incoming calls that you block, or it can be set up (prefered) to block any number that is witheld.
    This rejection feature prevents computer-sex offenders or anyone else from calling your home anonymously.
  • Tell your phone company you want complete itemised billing, that way you get to see every number called. Additionally, the last number called from your home phone can be retrieved provided that the telephone is equipped with a redial feature, Ask your telephone company what number you dial to retrieve this, for instance BT is 1471.
  • Monitor your child's access to all types of live electronic communications (i.e., chat rooms, instant messages, Internet Relay Chat, etc.), and monitor your child's e-mail. After meeting a child on-line, they will continue to communicate electronically often via e-mail.
Should any of the following situations arise in your household, via the Internet or on-line service, you should immediately contact your local police station, or contact the relevant authorities  
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  1. Your child or anyone in the household has received child pornography;
  2. Your child has been sexually solicited by someone who knows that your child is under 16 years of age;
  3. Your child has received sexually explicit images from someone that knows your child is under the age of 16, EVEN if the person who sent them was 16 or under.
If one of those scenarios occurs, The VERY SECOND you find out about it:
Turn the computer off by UNPLUGGING IT FROM THE MAINS,
This is to preserve any evidence for future law enforcement use.
Unless directed to do so by the law enforcement agency, you should not attempt to copy any of the images and/or text found on the computer.
What Can You Do To Minimize The Chances Of An On-line predator Victimizing Your Child
  • Communicate, and talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential on-line danger.
  • Spend time with your children on-line. Have them teach you about their favorite on-line 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 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 and MSN, in particular, should be heavily monitored. While parents should utilize these mechanisms, they should not totally rely on them.
  • Always maintain access to your child's on-line account and randomly check his/her e-mail. Be aware that your child could be contacted through the Mail. Be up front with your child about your access and reasons why.
  • Teach your child the responsible use of the resources on-line. There is much more to the on-line experience than chat rooms.
  • Find out what computer safeguards are utilized by your child's school, the public library, and at the homes of your child's friends. These are all places, outside your normal supervision, where your child could encounter an on-line predator.
  • Understand, even if your child was a willing participant in any form of sexual exploitation, that he/she is not at fault and is the victim. The offender always bears the complete responsibility for his or her actions. Instruct your children:
  • to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line;
  • to never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or on-line service to people they do not personally know;
  • to never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number;
  • to never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images;
  • to never respond to messages or postings in social networking sites such as facebook, myspace and bebo amongst others that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing;
  • that whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true
Frequently Asked Questions:

My child has received an e-mail advertising for a pornographic website, what should I do
Generally, advertising for an adult, pornographic website that is sent to an e-mail address does not violate any laws other than morally, and should be reported as junk by your email program.

Is any service safer than the others
Sex offenders have contacted children via most of the major on-line services and the Internet.
The most important factors in keeping your child safe on-line are the utilization of appropriate blocking software and/or parental controls, along with open, honest discussions with your child, monitoring his/her on-line activity.

Should I just forbid my child from going on-line
No. This would be overkill and make your child reject you as a parent.
There are dangers in every part of our society, even in the "real world". by educating your children to these dangers and taking appropriate steps to protect them, they can benefit from the wealth of information now available on-line.

Helpful Definitions:

Internet - An immense, global network that connects computers via telephone lines and/or fiber networks to storehouses of electronic information. With only a computer, a modem/router a telephone line and a service provider,or indeed these days even just a mobile telephone, people from all over the world can communicate and share information with little more than a few keystrokes.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) - Examples of ISPs are BT, Virgin Media and Sky, Orange, Vodafone, O2. These services offer direct, full access to the Internet at a flat, monthly rate and often provide electronic-mail service for their customers. ISPs often provide space on their servers for their customers to maintain World Wide Web (WWW) sites. Not all ISPs are commercial enterprises. Educational, governmental and nonprofit organizations also provide Internet access to their members.

Public Chat Rooms - Created, maintained, listed and monitored by many differrent people and system systems. A number of customers can be in the public chat rooms at any given time, which are monitored for illegal activity and even appropriate language by systems operators (SYSOP). Some public chat rooms are monitored more frequently than others, depending on the the type of chat room. Violators can be reported to the administrators of the system (at America On-line they are referred to as terms of service [TOS]) which can revoke user privileges. The public chat rooms usually cover a broad range of topics such as entertainment, sports, game rooms, children only, etc.

Electronic Mail (E-Mail) - A function of BBSs, and ISPs which provides for the transmission of messages and files between computers over a communications network similar to mailing a letter via the postal service. E-mail is stored on a server, where it will remain until the addressee retrieves it. Anonymity can be maintained by the sender by predetermining what the receiver will see as the "from" address. Another way to conceal one's identity is to use an "anonymous remailer," which is a service that allows the user to send an e-mail message repackaged under the remailer's own header, stripping off the originator's name completely.

Chat - Real-time text conversation between users in a chat room with no expectation of privacy. All chat conversation is accessible by all individuals in the chat room while the conversation is taking place. Instant Messages - Private, real-time text conversation between two users in a chat room, or using a service such as MSN Messenger now known as Windows Live Messenger. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) - Real-time text conversation similar to public and/or private chat rooms, however this is rarely used these days by younger people due to their not knowing about it. Usenet (Newsgroups) - Like a giant, cork bulletin board where users post messages and information. Each posting is like an open letter and is capable of having attachments, such as graphic image files (GIFs/JPG's). Anyone accessing the newsgroup can read the postings, take copies of posted items, or post responses. Each newsgroup can hold thousands of postings. Currently, there are over 140,000 public newsgroups and that number is growing daily. Newsgroups are both public and/or private. There is no listing of private newsgroups. A user of private newsgroups has to be invited into the newsgroup and be provided with the newsgroup's address.

Useful Software

Net Nanny
Internet "Safe Eyes"

Posted on February 23rd 2013
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