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Is The Internet Making Your Child More Vulnerable to Abuse?

Is The Internet Making Your Child More Vulnerable to Abuse?

When it comes to protecting your kids from sexual predators, the Internet and social media is really a double-edged sword. 

On one hand, the internet has become a haven for pedophiles. 30 years ago, a pedophile may have been content to have his fantasies about having sex with children, but he would not have acted out on it because he thought he was weird or the only one who had those thoughts.

Fast forward to today, and now there are websites and online chat rooms dedicated to pedophiles where they can share their pictures, grooming techniques (methods they use to build relationships with children), the best places to find vulnerable children, and even share stories of their conquests. This has turned closet pedophiles into full-blown child molesters because they are being encouraged by the actions of others with the same fetishes and compulsions as them.

Further intensifying pedophiles boldness is the younger generation’s use of social media. Most of us are familiar with Facebook and Twitter and some of the bigger sites. But the truth is that new social media outlets are being introduced regularly, and it is often the younger crowds who get a hold of them first, long before adults are even aware that they exist.

Snapchat is a perfect example. Snapchat is an app that allows you to send a picture or message that will self-erase after a few moments of being viewed. When this was first introduced, kids went crazy for it because it was a way for them to be shy and private.

What happened, of course, is that child predators and sexual bullies caught on almost as quickly as the kids did. We found that teachers, for example, were sending inappropriate pictures to their students on Snapchat, believing that the evidence would immediately be erased. The same thing was happening with Boy Scout leaders, sports coaches, and Sunday school teachers everywhere.

It is not just the sneaky social media outlets that child predators frequent, though. Pedophiles are looking for your kids on Facebook and Twitter, too, sending them friend requests and private messages. It is not uncommon for a pedophile to begin an online relationship with a child, grooming them with leading questions, making them feel comfortable, and describing themselves as a “friend.” Many sexual encounters with children begin with a predator initiating an online relationship first.

The bottom line is that, yes, the internet has greatly increased the vulnerability of your child to sexual abuse. Not only are child predators finding comfort and courage with reading materials and chat rooms dedicated to their compulsions, but we also have children as young as 7 or 8 with their own Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat accounts where they become easy targets for preying adults.

The good news about all of this is that the Internet and social media can also hold the keys to catching these predators and putting them away for their crimes – there is that double-edged sword.

What goes out on the Internet or sent to your child’s phone is never really erased. The best way for you to protect your child online is by having access to their computers, phones, and social media accounts at all times, and monitoring their interactions and messages. If you do suspect that your child has been contacted by an adult, the very technology they used to make contact may hold the proof you need to catch them.

At the end of the day, it is critical that you are aware of what is out there, who is out there and what your kids are doing online.

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