Offenders Disguised as Teens Online
The world is different today for teens versus the world their parents grew up in 20, 30, and 40 years ago. Most teens have a personal cell phone, television, DVD player, computer, Mp3 player, and stereo, hand held and full size gaming devices available to them. Even more distressing is that most teens have all of these devices right in his or her bedroom. As a child, there were maybe one or two wired landlines, one or two televisions available, and exciting video games like pong and Pac man. The bedroom was for sleeping, not for homework and playing.
The problem with having all of these personal devices available to one 24/7 is that parental supervision is lacking. Kids can isolate to their rooms and avoid interacting with the family, except for daily functions like eating and personal hygiene. Why would anyone want to come out of these happy little havens?
Unfortunately, too much isolation, and lack of parental supervision is causing many teens to find themselves in unfamiliar situations where he or she is forced to make a decision he or she is unprepared to make. Children are making adult decisions.
The World Wide Web is a dark and dangerous place for children to be unsupervised. A pedophile never has to leave his or her home to find his or her next victim. He or she can simply log onto the Internet and go to any teen chat room or website. Here it is easy for the pedophile to begin grooming a child for sexual exploitation.
Teens feel anonymous and safe on the internet. Many teens fail to realize even the tiniest piece of information provided online can give way to the teens location. Go to My Space, Face book, and other social networking websites, and look at the profiles provided. You might be surprised to see what your teen is writing in his or her online profile.
Besides providing pictures of themselves, many teens post pictures of friends, family, and link themselves to their friends page, or include personal information like year in school, the name of their school, and hometown city and state. Once information is placed onto the internet it cannot be removed easily if ever.
That 15-year-old teen boy talking to your son or daughter, more than likely is a wolf disguised as a sheep. Adults will often pretend to be someone close to the age of your child. Children feel safer talking to some like themselves and if he or she believes the other person is a teen, he or she is likely to reveal more information without giving it a second thought. Things can get out of hand quickly, especially when texting or emailing someone.
Be watchful of what children are doing online, in texting and in email. Be ready to intervene if you feel there is any inappropriate information going out. Finally, educate teens on how easy it is for an adult to act like a teenager online. If they do not know the person in real life, teach them to treat the person the same as if walking home from school. Without parental supervision and education, a teen is vulnerable to the tactics of the pedophiles lurking in the darkness and anonymity of the internet.
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