Predators are continually using unique and clever tactics to get in touch with children. Safe Surfin’ recently shared a case that took place in Virginia about a man who was posing as a teenager online. He was creating relationships with young teens, ultimately convincing them to take inappropriate pictures and videos of themselves. Sadly, this went on for several years until he was caught. Like this man, predators are communicating with each other to become better at acting like kids to easier find their victim’s vulnerabilities in order to create trust with them online. This post was made to make parents aware that this is happening in their neighborhoods. It was shared as a reminder to communicate with your kids on who they are talking to online, what devices they are using, what platforms they are on, etc. After sharing this case, we had several parents message us asking what they should do.
- “I believe my child is talking to someone suspicious online. What do I do?” Parents – trust your instincts. If you have a feeling of suspicion, your concerns are most likely valid. You should feel comfortable knowing who your child is communicating with. Make sure you do your research and if it feels uncomfortable, end the relationship.
- “My child is having adult conversations with someone they don’t know online. What do I do?” First, if your child is having inappropriate conversations online with a stranger, report it here. This helps speed up the process to ensure the individual’s profiles and information are being preserved. Next, contact your local law enforcement. They know what signs to look for and will have resources to properly investigate. Once they create the report, the investigation will get started.
- “If we create a report, will my child get in trouble?” Even if your child was engaging in a sexual conversation, the child is always the victim. Some states do have laws that children can get in trouble for taking naked images, but if an adult is requesting them, it releases them of any sort of criminal activity. Always make a report. If this is happening to your child, it has likely that 150-300 kids have already been victimized by this predator. In the case discussed above, the man was only charged with having 13 victims, however, these were the only victims “identified.” The average predator has 150-300 victims.
- “I hate to end a relationship my child has formed.” Sadly, this is what predators do. They are grooming your child and building a relationship with them. It is important to show your children what these grooming techniques are so that they understand the motive behind the predator. Doing this proactively will give your child the knowledge to make the right choice when approached online by a stranger.
So what can parents do to keep their kids safe online?
- Communicate with your child to ensure they know who they are talking to online.
- Check their devices regularly.
- Invest in a monitoring app. We recommend Bark, Net Nanny, and Life360. These monitoring apps allow you to track what conversations are being had in real-time to avoid any dangerous relationships are forming.
Get Weekly Cyber Tips!
Join investigator Moe McClanahan every week for a live cyber tip on our Instagram!
The mission of the Safe Surfin’ Foundation is not only to protect youth from those who would do them harm, but pro-actively educating them in the safe and responsible use of today’s ever-changing technology. Together, we’re improving and saving lives. Help us continue educating kids online by donating today.