We understand online computer exploration opens a world of possibilities for children, expanding their horizons and exposing them to different cultures and ways of life. They can also be exposed to dangers as they hit the road to explore the information highway. Individuals from both within and beyond our community attempt to meet and groom children for sexual exploitation through the use of on-line services and the internet.
Some of these individuals gradually seduce their targets through the use of attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts. These individuals are often willing to devote considerable amounts of time, money, and energy in this process. They listen to and empathize with the problems of children. They will be aware of their latest music, hobbies, and interests. These individuals attempt to gradually lower a child's inhibitions by slowly introducing a sexual context into their conversations.
Others immediately engage in sexually explicit conversation with children. Some offenders primarily collect and trade child-pornographic images, while others seek face-to-face meetings with children via on-line contacts. It is important for parents to understand that children can be indirectly victimized through conversation, i.e. "chat," as well as the transfer of sexually explicit information and material. Offenders may also be evaluating children they come in contact with on-line for future face-to-face contact and direct victimization. Parents should remember that a computer-sex offender can be any age or gender.
Children, especially adolescents, are sometimes interested in and curious about sexuality and sexually explicit material. They may be moving away from the total control of parents and seeking to establish new relationships outside their family. Because they may be curious, children/adolescents sometimes use their on-line access to actively seek out such materials and individuals. Sex offenders targeting children will use and exploit this curiosity. Some adolescent children may also be attracted to and lured by on-line offenders closer to their age who, although not technically child molesters, may be dangerous. Nevertheless, they have been seduced and manipulated by a clever offender and do not fully understand or recognize the potential danger of these contacts.
The following links will help parents, teens and kids understand the importance of internet safety:
For Parents: http://www.netsmartz.org/netparents.htm
For Teens: http://www.netsmartz.org/netteens.htm
For Kids: http://www.netsmartzkids.org/index.htm