The inundation of electronic devices our children use daily is growing at an amazing rate. Cell phone, Mp3 players, portable DVD players, laptops, and the list are endless. How can we as parents monitor our children’s safety when he or she can text, instant message, surf, and call anyone in the world from their own bedroom behind closed doors without a parent ever knowing with whom their child is interacting. Predators look for children who are alone, because mom and dad work late, or are divorced, or one parent is gone or deceased. Only now, the predator can sit in the comfort of his or her own home and never have to leave to find his or her next victim.
Parents tell me all the time “I had no idea” or “I thought I could trust him or her.” Trust essentially has nothing to do with the fact that now a sexual predator can come into your home and you may never know he or she was there until your child disappears. Children, especially teenagers feel like they know everything, and they think they are immortal. The “it will never happen to me syndrome” runs wild at this age. They also feel parents are too controlling and do not trust them. What they fail to realize is parents do not lack trust in his or her child, but that as an adult we have experienced so much more of life and know the danger children may find themselves in without warning.
As an adult we know how quickly something seemingly innocent as talking to a friend on a text message can quickly get out of hand. We have probably placed ourselves in a dangerous position and later realized how close of a call we may have almost experienced. Teens also know that if they ask to do something that they know a parent dislikes they will probably have their idea shot down, so they may choose to become secretive and sneak out to meet their new friend on the internet.
Children are more trusting of the world around them, where as an adult has experienced deceit and realize that people are not as predictable as they say. Teens may live a sheltered life and not realize that the nice new friend on the internet is not a 15-year-old new boy or girl friend but a 45-year-old pedophile. It is important now more than ever that a parent talk with their children and set down safety guidelines for the family. Do not go on the assumption that Jane is a good girl or Johnny is a good boy and would never do anything like meet someone from online.
Children regardless of how trustworthy they are can find themselves in situations they are not ready to experience. Pedophiles know what to say to gain a child’s trust. Texting can quickly turn from innocent banter to sexual requests. Know whom your child corresponds with and ask questions. If you do not it may be too late when they do not come home from school one day because they choose to meet their new friend from the web. Monitor your child’s access to the web and his or her activities that is after all your job as their parent. My children know I am not here to win a popularity contest and that being a mom sometimes requires me to be the bad person. That however is preferable to my child falling victim to a real bad person.