Article Summary:Your child is protected from online sexual predators by following these few, simple, Internet safety guidelines.
It's a parent's greatest fear: a sexual predator will come in contact with your daughter or son. All the web sites, articles, and TV programs focus on the after-events: prosecution, national laws, punishment and tracking of offenders, helping the victims. This is right and proper. However, it may be the wrong approach for some kinds of sexual predators.
The only way you can be sure to stop sexual predators in their tracks is by monitoring so that you can cut off their heinous crimes before they transpire. By protecting the children they prey on, we all make our children safer. At schools, vigilance and security make all the difference. Teachers and administrators do a great job of keeping their eyes out for people hanging around, and unusual patterns of behavior by outsiders.
Websites that track known sexual offenders help all of us to know where these people are, and help us to monitor them. Almost every state has a database of sex offenders that parents can access over the Internet, to track and monitor sex offenders and potential sexual predators.
But there is one group that is not monitored at all: sexual predators that lurk on the Internet. They work by looking for sexual prey in chat rooms, bulletin boards, etc. Since much of your child's activity is private, it's hard to know what is really going on or who they are talking to. You can't know what's being said, or suggested. How can you see every exchange, every message they send and receive? Actually, there are several software programs that will monitor your child's messages, emails, instant messages, and web sites visited. You can place these software programs in your child's computer where they "hide" and report to you by email exactly what is going on.
Now you really can stop sexual predators before they make their move. The software produces a log for the authorities; a trail of emails, chat, and IM. Without one of these tools, you can only find out about sexual predators on the internet after something awful happens. With these software tools, you can stop these sexual predators before they strike, and protect your kids.
Here are some other tools you can use to protect your children on the Internet:
1. Talk to them about the dangers of unrestricted use of the Internet. Inform them about keeping passwords really secret, never sharing a credit card number with anyone, even their best friend.
2. Caution them about web sites that encourage sharing of confidential information. There have been two confirmed abductions of girls who displayed confidential information on MySpace.com, including a girl abducted in a mall outside Boston this year.
3. Talk to them about stalkers and predators on the internet that use false identities, and urge them to be careful in chat rooms.
4. Take the computer out of their rooms and place it in a common area in the house. Your kids are much less likely to do something inappropriate or dangerous if other people are around. Your kids will be more aware, and that's a good thing.
5. Look into Internet Monitoring Software which can track Internet sites visited, downloads, chat room conversations, and IM.
Steve Cross, President of Guardian Software, is a columnist, author, and the former President of family-friendly internet pioneer YourFreeStuff.com. Steve wrote the book "Changing Channels", and was a columnist for the Gartner Group's "Channel Media" newsletters for years. Before purchasing Guardian Software he served in senior level executive positions with several software companies. For more information visit Guardian Software.