Here at Ident-A-Kid, in addition child identification, we are also concerned with your child’s safety when they are online. The Federal Bureau of Investigations www.fbi.gov has issued a pamphlet on your child’s internet safety. Below are some highlights from the pamphlet that we here at Ident-A-Kid think are very important. For more information on internet safety, visit http://www.fbi.gov/publications/pguide/parentsguide.pdf
One thing that is important to be aware of are the signs that indicate that your child might be at risk when they are online. The Federal Bureau of Investigations outline the following indicators of internet risk:
1. Your child spends a large amount of time on the internet, especially at night
• Many children that fall victim to computer sex offenders are those who spend a lot of time on the internet and internet chat rooms. Children who spend a lot of time online are looking to chat with friends, make new friends, find information, and just generally pass the time. Sometimes children spend a lot of their time looking for sexually explicit information as well. Parents should be acutely aware of the time their child is spending on the internet and what they are doing while online
• Many sexual offenders spend their evenings searching for pornography and trying to locate or lure children. Children are at the greatest risk when they are online during the evening hours. However, it is important to remember that these things can happen at any time of the day as well.
2. You find pornography on the computer your child uses.
• Sexual offenders will often give their potential victims pornography in order to start sexual conversations. Child pornography is sometimes used by offenders to show children that sex between adults and children is “okay.” Your child may also try to hide the pornography by putting it on a separate drive, like a flash drive. Be sure to know what is on your children’s electronic devices.
3. Your child is making or receiving calls from people you don’t recognize or numbers you don’t recognize.
• Sex offenders will try to get your child to talk on the telephone to either set up a meeting or engage your child in explicit conversations. Although your child may not give out his/her number, the offender will give the child their number. The offender may also ask the child to call collect or the offender may set up an 800 number so that the parents will not find out.
4. Your child is receiving mail, gifts, or packages from someone you do not know.
• Offenders will commonly send their potential victims letters, photos, gifts, or even plane tickets. It is important to know what your children are receiving and who they are receiving it from.
5. When you come into the room your child quickly turns off the computer monitor or changes the screen on the monitor.
• If your child does this, they may be trying to hide that they are looking at pornography or having explicit conversations.
6. Your child has become withdrawn from the family.
• Offenders will take any chance they can to drive distance between you and your child. They may accentuate minor problems at home in order to do this. If your child has been sexually victimized, he/she may also withdraw from the family and those close to them.
7. Your child is using an online account that belongs to someone else.
• Your child may be using the internet at a friend’s house or at the library. Computer sex offenders sometimes will provide potential victims with a computer account so that your child can communicate with them.
If you suspect your child is communicating with a sexual predator online, the Federal Bureau of Investigation gives the following suggestions as to what steps can be taken to ensure your child’s safety:
1. Talk openly about your child about your suspicions and tell them what dangers are out there involving computer sex offenders.
2. Review what is on your child’s computer. While using the internet browser select tools, then internet options. This way you can look through the internet history on the computer.
3. Use Caller ID service and use the telephone company’s service to block your number from showing on other Caller IDs. You can also use the telephone company’s service to reject numbers that you specifically block. This will help to prevent sex offenders from calling your home anonymously.
4. Monitor your child’s access to live electronic communication like chat rooms, instant messaging, etc. and child’s email.
Should any of the following situations arise in your household, via the Internet or on-line service, you should immediately contact your local or state law enforcement agency, the FBI, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:
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 18 years of age;
3. Your child has received sexually explicit images from someone that knows your child is under the age of 18.
• If one of these scenarios occurs, keep the computer turned off in order 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.
For more information about internet safety, visit http://www.fbi.gov/publications/pguide/parentsguide.pdf or www.fbi.gov