Our community’s battle against child molestation, child abuse and all other acts of child violence must begin, as George Sweat, Director of Juvenile Justice states, “in the high chair, not waiting until the perpetrator reaches the electric chair,” after the damage to the child is done.
Our children’s safety continues to be the predominant concern of parents, guardians, and community members. As our society and technology becomes increasingly complex, so do our safety concerns. With 30-40 million users in America between the ages of 10 and 17, the computer age has compounded the threat to our youth. Through the Internet access we’re utilizing to communicate with you, child predators have acquired another entryway into the lives of impressionable children, using the medium of information, entertainment and social connection to manipulate and deceive.
In a staggering finding, the Parents Online Lifeline Organization and To Catch a Predatortelevision program’s surveys suggest that 75% of children under 14 have been or will be approached at some point by a pedophile – attempting to discuss sex acts and lure children into dangerous meetings.
Crimes against children weigh heavily on young victims, their families, on the entire community. To apprehend those who prey on area youth via the Net, Sheriff Gaines and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office partner with producers of the television series, To Catch a Predator, resulting in hundreds of arrests, and the excision of pedophiles from our community.
WCSO Deputies and the Criminal Investigations Division are steadfast in their apprehension of these individuals day in, day out, and pursue every lead, check every tip, and investigate child abuse in every unfortunate form to the fullest, so that our local prosecutors can seek the severest possible penalties.
Yet as parents, guardians, and caregivers, we ask, what can we do to shield our children, to prevent such contact from occurring?
First, please call Warren County Sheriff’s Office with information regarding inappropriate contact, to ask questions, or to report criminal, abusive activity.
The Internet can be a perilous frontier. As parents, grandparents, guardians, and caregivers, we must be fortified. Here are a few parental pointers, and a list of child safety links.
We must be Internet-savvy, engaged in family activities, and we must keep communicating with our children, to keep the predators from doing the talking. If the World Wide Web, the “www” is truly the “window to the world,” let’s slam it shut on those who would crawl into our lives to harm our children.
WCSO Cyber Shield Guide
- Do not ban Internet use: Between the public library, school and friends’ homes, children have opportunities. But do set an online time limit and usage rules.
- Be involved, spend time together on the computer, and visit websites with your child whenever possible.
- Install firewalls and safety blocks, such as NetNanny, and a variety of others are available.
- Acquire a basic knowledge of the technology. Children or teens often know more about computers than their parents. Take a class, read a book, subscribe to a computer magazine. The more parents know about computers and the Internet, the better they can talk to their children about Internet safety.
- Place the computer in a common area, like the living room, with a posted list of rules.
- Ask your internet service provider about their company's parental controls.
- Remind your child to be careful about what they post about themselves and others on their blog, and anywhere else on the Internet – either in personal information such as age, home address, school, phone number or any revealing photos. Predators routinely search comment sections for revealing information, and frequently under a false identity.
- Encourage your child to talk to you about any upsetting communication. Warn children not to reply to such messages without telling you first. Cyber-bullying is a volatile problem, particularly for teens, so take this behavior seriously.
- Talk to your kids often. Explain that you must be informed right away if they are approached online, or receive inappropriate content. (Bookmarking favorite sites may also prevent accidentally stumbling onto inappropriate content.)
- Look for warning signs, such as your son or daughter minimizing a browser window when you enter the room and/or getting phone calls from people unfamiliar to you.
- Communicate with the parents of your child’s friends. Most children use computers at friends’ homes. Not all families prioritize Internet safety.
- Teach your children "The Embarrassment Rule." They should NEVER post or blog anything that they wouldn't want everyone to read or know.
- Talk to your kids often. Explain that you must be informed right away if they are ever approached online, or receive any inappropriate content. Bookmarking favorite sites may also prevent accidentally stumbling onto inappropriate content.
- Know your children’s email accounts and passwords, and the list of their contacts/friends. Maintain access for random checks, including viewing MySpace or Facebook page, etc.
- Children should choose a screen name that does not reveal personal information, and while the name can be expressive of the child, do not select a name that is flirtatious, sexually suggestive or inappropriate.
- Instruct them to keep the password strictly private, so that no one can use their onscreen identity to play pranks, intimidate another person online, or interact with a dangerous individual.
- Consider creating a contract with these rules for you and your child to sign together.
- Report any problem or suspicious contact to authorities, and to your Internet service provider. Severe penalties apply to people who jeopardize your child's safety.
Parents and children must be informed and pro-active regarding Internet dangers, so the family can enjoy the Internet as a beneficial, entertaining medium, and avoiding the hazards. Let your child know that she or he can always come to you, and we wish you and your family a safe, enjoyable time online.
PARENTAL RESOURCE AND CHILD SAFE AND FRIENDLY SITES
- com (Pleasing, exciting, safe adventures for kids, with links to other entertaining sites, puzzles, games and activities)
- com Safe Surfing. (A central connection to everything from free parental controls software, chat monitoring materials, to kid-safe, kid-friendly, entertaining and educational sites, kids games sites, and internet safety advice and safety tutorials.)
- FBI For the Family – Children and Internet Safety (Helpful steps to ensure safety)
- com (Delightful animations and games – requires Shockwave)
- Home PC Online Safety Resource Center for Kids (Comprehensive and wide-ranging)
- com (For mental moves in a kids’ news format that’s monitored and fun!)
- com (Brings outer space down to earth!)
- Parents Guide to the Internet (Grade A site – Generated by the Department of Education)
- Parents Place.com (A very nice place for parents to visit for assistance)
- Police Notebook.com (A superb resource for both parent and child, offering guidance and great links for the adult, and presenting safety training to children in an entertaining style.)
- Kids on the Internet.com (An all-round information gem)
- Kidoz (One of several colorful sites geared toward children, for worry-free fun activities)
- LifeScript for Mothers (Tips for mom for a variety of issues that child-raising issues that arise, including Internet use.)
- Safe Kids(The name says it all!)
A SAMPLING OF BLOCKERS/FILTERING SOFTWARE OPTIONS: