Cyber predators use the medium of the internet to victimize or take advantage of a child either sexually, emotionally, psychologically or financially. Cyber predators are really skilled at crafting means to hunt and manipulate children, starting from the establishment of trust and friendship.
The internet is a place for research and scholastic engagement and online activities are harmless or even positive for young people. But predators who come online only to exploit them can use the Internet to locate and “mentor” potential victims through a non-sexual approach, which ends into a sexual encounter.
How Predators Prey on Children
Cyber predators target those children who are emotionally vulnerable due to personal issues, like problems at school or home. They exploit these issues to establish a pseudo-friendship and trust with the victim. Almost all children show frustration with parents or teachers at school and cyber predators validate their feeling by empathizing with the child.
Because children are inexperienced and expect attention and affection, they easily trust others without trying to understand their counterpart’s intentions. This blend of personas makes emotionally vulnerable children easy targets by predators. Bulletin boards, games, chat rooms, contests, surveys, promotions, and profiles on any social network facilitate the disclosure of personal information to strangers with no sense of personal safety.
Where do predators get their info?
This extensive and searchable accumulation of personal information undermines the privacy of children. Even unpretentious information available on profiles such as the schools attended, sports played by children, or even a sports shirt number make them vulnerable to predators. A 15-year young girl innocently posting a selfie with her friends standing next to the main entrance of her house is also telling a potential predator where she lives and with whom spends her time. Children are prone to compromising their safety when this seemingly harmless information is accessible to others interested in online and offline contact.
How do predators build trust?
Cyber predators rely on cheating and manipulation to elude detection and secure trust and confidence of the child. Predators are masters in gradually enhancing the intensity of their interaction with a child, carefully seducing the child to lower his or her shyness. In addition to friendship and overly attention, the tactics of seduction include the exchange of gifts and other activities or trips. The child’s emotional neediness or loneliness are the easiest aspects to attack.
How do predators extort and blackmail?
Once a predator has developed an alliance with a victim and gains his or her trust the predator often shares pornographic pictures and sometimes gifts a cell phone through the mail so calls or texts will not show up on a phone bill that parents will see. This process is targeted at crippling the child’s senses to nudity, ticking the child’s curiosity about sex and endorsing adult-child sexual relations and subsequently suggesting photographing the child in sexually seductive poses by convincing them to send nude images, disrobe on a live webcam session.
At any stage, if the victim shows any sign of disinterest and tries to avoid, the predator will threat that he will tell victims’ parents what he or she has been doing online and how the victim has seen and responded pornographic materials. This leads to scare the victim and a term is widely known as “sextortion” take this play to a new level and in return for not revealing the victim’s sensational information the predator demands money, additional material or even sex.
Now that you’re aware that predators are quite adept at how to find information about someone, we hope that you will take the necessary steps to protect your children.
Who are at the risk of cyber predators?
Children who are at the greatest risk of encountering cyber predators are:
- New to the cyber world and unfamiliar with “Netiquette”
- Confused regarding sexual identity
- Attention or affection seekers
- Attracted by subcultures of others
- Curious or needy
- Lonely or isolated
Children believe that they are aware of inherent dangers of the cyber world and predators, but in actuality, they are quite naive about online offenders. One in five teenagers who log on to the Internet receive an unwanted sexual solicitation via the Web. Solicitations are requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk or to give out personal sexual information and it’s also true that only 25% of those children inform their parents.
What should parents look out for in their child’s internet activities?
Parents should be cautious when following symptoms appear in their child:-
- Shows signs of fear, stress or desperation
- Spends a lot of time online or on cell phone
- Find pornographic material on the computer or portable device
- Receive texts, phone calls, mail, or gifts from unknown people
- Avoids normal activities
- When approached quickly switches computer screen or closes out of app
- Hides email or Instant Messaging accounts
What should parents do to protect their children from cyber predators?
Some measures are appended below that parents should adopt to protect their children from cyber predators:
- Get involved: Share the facts about sexual predators and potential online dangers with your children.
- Monitor chat rooms: Young children shouldn’t be allowed to use chat rooms. As children grow up, direct them towards well-monitored children’s’ chat rooms. If your children take part in chat rooms, make sure you know which ones they visited and with whom they talked.
- Restrict children only to a chat room’s public area: Direct children to never leave the chat room’s public area. Chat rooms offer users one-on-one chats for private conversations and chat monitors and other users can’t see these conversations.
- Place the computer in a family room or somewhere visible: Place the Internet-connected computer in a common area of the house, never in a child’s bedroom. It is much more difficult for a cyber predator to establish a relationship with a child if the computer screen is easily visible to parents.
- Children should share a family e-mail address: When children are able to use email accounts, they should share the family email address rather than have their own email accounts. As they get older, you can ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to set up a separate e-mail address for children, but children’s mail can still reside in a parent’s account.
- Never respond to unknown emails: Tell your children to never respond to instant messaging or e-mails from strangers.
- Rules about meeting Internet friends: Parents should set some hard and fast rules about meeting Internet friends in person; a parent must be told if a meeting is being planned and a parent should be in attendance at the meeting.
- Personal information: Instruct your child not to reveal personal information and teach them how to hide this information when they are online.