Keeping Children Safe

The major areas of concern on the web are: 1. Cyber Bullying 2. Sexual Predators 3. Pornography 4. Damaged Reputations 5. Hate Sites 6. Online Gambling 7. Internet Addiction This paper will discuss research only on a few of those areas and the relationship and damage of child sexual abuse dangers through internet pornography. It will also show key points on how to protect the future generations from being targeted or affected by online child sexual abuse. Child Sexual Abuse is a common cause of developmental disorders in children and adults.

Consequences of child sexual abuse range “from chronic depression to low self-esteem to sexual dysfunction to multiple personalities. A fifth of all victims develops serious long-term psychological problems, according to the American Medical Association. These may include dissociative responses and other signs of a post-traumatic-stress syndrome [sic], chronic states of arousal, nightmares, flashbacks, venereal disease and anxiety over sex or exposure of the body during medical exams” (“Child Sexual Abuse . . . ,” 1993). Keeping Children Safe Online There are many dangers within the internet also known as the cyber road way.

Though we have a wealth of information at our finger tips at the exact times we need it. There are many dangers waiting for our youth at those moments as well. The Internet, just like the real world, is filled with its upstanding citizens, lowlife grease balls, civic centers, red light districts, libraries, dirty bookstores, video arcades, casinos, museums and bootleg kiosks. Parents wary of allowing their children out of the house without certain guidelines — like “don’t cross the street without looking both ways,” “be home by 8” and “stay away from that hifty-eyed drifter who hangs out under the bridge” — should have a series of equally reasonable guidelines for their children when they venture into the potentially seedy online world” (Pirillo, 2009). While there are over 3 million safe child friendly sites on the net, children can suddenly come across material of a sexual or violent nature and language that is offensive. Quite innocently they can bring up sites that do not relate to the topic they are looking for, or someone can send images or messages that are not suitable.

The main dangers to children are that they may access inappropriate information such as pornography, inadvertently form ‘friendships’ with strangers, risk their personal health through an excessive use and endangering their privacy by revealing person details about themselves to online predators (Media, 2010). According to the survey, one in five youths who regularly use the Internet received sexual solicitations or approaches during a 1-year period. The survey also found that offenses and offenders are more diverse than previously thought.

In addition to pedophiles, other predators use the Internet. Nearly half (48 percent) of the offenders was other youth, and one-fourth of the aggressive episodes were initiated by females. Further, 77 percent of targeted youth was age 14 or older—not an age characteristically targeted by pedophiles. Although the youth stopped most solicitations by leaving the Web site, logging off, or blocking the sender, the survey confirmed current thinking that some youth is particularly vulnerable to online advance. Crime, 2001) The responsibility for protecting children from illegal pornography and criminal activity lays largely on the role of the parents. Parents and caretakers must become more proactive in protecting the children from internet corruption. Children can access internet pornography in many ways some being through the internet, email and spam filter boxes, instant messaging, chat rooms, networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace and also on the very widely used YouTube. Criminals use the children’s personal information against them. Internet sites like Myspace post all the facts a predator needs.

Children also might inadvertently type in similar named website names which are called stealth sites that have misleading URL’s, misdirected searches when the children key in their favorite search terms, pornographic sites pop up along with the sites the children are looking for, innocent word searches on search engines that can lead an unsuspecting child to an array of porn sites, misuse of brand names aimed at kids. Even the most watchful parental supervision and regulation are sometimes not able to restrict access to such harmful internet consequences.

Children have access to computers and the internet not only at home but also in many other places, in schools, libraries, or at a friend’s house. While a child may not directly access pornography, he or she may come into contact with other children who have pornography on their computers or on the internet. The targeting of our children has become so common. Donna Rice Hughes, President of the Virginia-based Enough is Enough, told attendees that the “great innovators” of the porn industry have targeted children with “clever and deceptive marketing tactics” to secure an up-and-coming market of addicted consumers.

The tactics are not unlike those once employed by the tobacco industry to get youths hooked on smoking. “Statistics show that 7 in 10 kids have accidentally accessed pornography and 1 in 3 intentionally,” said Hughes. “Unlike other drugs, we can never remove [pornography] from the system,” said Dr. Mary Anne Layden, Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program, University of Pennsylvania. “It is permanently implanted in the brain. No detox is possible. This is the first time that the mental health field has been asked to deal with an addictive substance that is irremovable” (Smith, 2010).

Parents can assist in the protection of a predator attack by recognizing certain facts and profiles about online predators because instant messaging on the computer has become the phone for kids today. “Children spend hours chatting online with their friends, and sometimes with strangers. A recent study found that one in five children online is approached by a sexual predator, a predator who may try to set up a in person meeting. ” (Hansen, 2004). Predators have easy and anonymous access to children and teens online where they can shroud their identity and roam without limit.

Often, we have an image of sexual predators lurking around school playgrounds or hiding behind bushes scoping out their would-be victims, but the reality is that today’s sexual predator search for victims while hiding behind a computer screen, taking advantage of the uncertainty that the world wide web offers. Predator’s often have mastery of certain teenage subjects and can speak teens’ online lingo, which makes it conceivable for them to blend in with the younger online arena such as forum’s and network site’s.

Predators are not as grungy as children might visualize them to be. Mary Beth Buchanan, U. S. District Attorney, Western Pennsylvania said “The Internet has given predators access to children they previously would not have had. Children are often too trusting of adults. Predators are in all professions. Unfortunately, we have seen doctors, lawyers, law enforcement and clergy. There is really no common trait. In fact, many of them are drawn to those particular professions which give them access to children” (EnoughIsEnough, 2010).

Parents must also know that even though their child might seem instructed and street smart on the web they still have that youth ignorance factor. Trusting children who believe their chat partners are “friends” are completely oblivious that predators are seeking them out to groom them for criminal intentions, personal and commercial. Parents should always use caution to avoid harmful online behavior being embedded into the child as well. Internet pornography is not simply safe fun as some adults might believe it is an imitation of the love, intimacy and commitment that people are created to desire.

It has many adverse impacts on children’s emotional and mental health that rears abnormal sexual education, coaches the children that adult entertainment is normal and attractive, desensitizes the child and contributes in the boost for an appetite for more deviant, bizarre, or violent types of pornography, promotes sexual aggression and can lead to acting out against younger children. Internet pornography contains images that can never be erased from the child’s mind which can alter brain chemistry. Children often imitate what they’ve seen, read, or heard. When children watch cowboys and Indians, they want to go play cowboys and Indians.

When children watch Superman, they pretend to be action heroes. When kids watch sex, it’s no surprise they want to act out sexually. Some studies suggest that exposure to pornography can prompt kids to act out sexually against younger, smaller, and more vulnerable children. Clinicians, psychologists, and law enforcement officials have noted an increase in the number of children seeking clinical help for issues relating to sexual exploitation; an increase in the number of children “acting out” sexually and a jump in the incidences of child-on-child sex attacks; and increased incidences of child-produced pornography. EnoughIsEnough, 2010) Child victimization on the Internet is a complex matter. The full impact of such victimization on children is not completely understood. Family dynamics often play a significant role in children’s denial of a crime and their willingness to participate in the investigation and prosecution. A child’s ability to acknowledge and accept the crime can be linked to family values, peer pressure, and feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. Denial and recantation can be common among children who unwittingly participated in the crime.

Because of these issues, the greatest challenges facing law enforcement and victim service professionals are to identify the victims, protect their privacy, and serve them without further victimization. (Crime, 2001) If a parent adds limitations to a child’s online activity cold turkey they might show signs of rebellion and start using it more in excess but without the parents knowledge. Setting the ground rules right away and having good communication with the child is always best to start with.

If a parent must start the drawback, but they see signs of the child’s habits modified it might be helpful to know indicators and forewarnings of overutilization or hidden online activity. Some of those signs and indicators for parents to watch for are: the hiding of disks, too much time online or late night online doings, picture files taking up a lot of storage space on computer, unusually sexually inquisitive or active sexually for their age, unauthorized charges on a credit card, computer screen quickly changes when parent walks in room or if the youth becomes very secretive or defensive.

A parent can and should model appropriate computer use, supervise computer activity and get the child help if he or she needs it. (Saisan, 2010) If a child or teen is showing signs of internet addiction, there are many things that a parent can do to help: some prevention tips for parents and to inform their children about are; never giving out personal information. Teach the children to never give personal information over the Internet, such as real name, birthday, address, telephone number, password, parents’ names, the name of any club or team he/she is involved in, name of his/her school, or after school.

A parent should also inform their children about being careful about what online photos are posted. It is wisest to encourage a child not to post any photos online. Children use various forms of technology to post information and photos online, such as videos and web cams. Photos from camera phones can also be uploaded. Parents and guardians should be well-informed of the images their children post on the web because these images may pose a risk to their children, exposing them to online predators and people they don’t know.

Even innocent photos can attract a predator. Check with the child’s school to see if students’ projects, artwork, or photos are being put on school websites. Schools need to be reminded of the risk and encouraged to allow access to student activities posted on the school’s website by password only or posted on the school’s Intranet. Webcams should only be used under close parental supervision and sent only to trusted friends and family. Ten tips on prevention coming from the EIE foundation are the following: 1. Supervising of any computer use.

Placing the computer that the child uses in a public or open area of the home such as a kitchen or family room will help give parents better ability to oversee their child’s computer usage. Knowing any types of mobile devises (cell, phones, iPod’s or PDA’s) that the child might use inside or outside of the home as well as having prior permission granted for any computer use outside of the home such as at libraries or friends homes. 2. Setting a structured time allotment for internet use and monitoring the amount of time the child spends on the internet, and at what times of day.

Too much time online, especially at night, may indicate a problem. 3. Make sure that the child knows that no face-to-face meetings are allowed and the children should also be advised to come to the parent if anyone makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused or suggests meeting them. 4. Prohibit chartrooms. By recognizing that chat rooms are the playground of today’s sexual predator a parent could prevent unwanted conversations with strangers. EIE advocates that parents to disallow chat rooms because it’s impossible for a parent, child, or technology tool to recognize a disguised predator. . Limit the child’s instant messaging to a parental or guardian-approved buddy list and check the child’s buddy list periodically to ensure that it has not been changed. Communication is a must! By having a parent – child online presence together and enjoying the online activity mutually will institute a feeling of trust. This provides a chance for parents and caretakers to connect with the child in dialogue about websites their children visit and programs they are using.

Parents and guardians should be open to learning about technology so they can keep up with their children. Understanding how children use the internet will give parents and guardians a better idea of the risks they may face, and how they can better safeguard their children. 6. Know the child’s online activities and friends. Knowing each of the child’s passwords, screen names, and all account information and regularly asking the kids about who they are communicating with online and their activities is a proactive role for prevention.

Children should be cautioned to only communicate online with people they know by sight and who have been approved by the parent. 7. Establish online rules and an agreement with the child about Internet use at home and outside of the home (i. e. , at a friend’s house, at school, at the library, etc. ). 8. Think like the child by searching the blog sites children visit to see what information they are posting. To ensure that children are not engaging in risky online behavior, it is recommend that parents and guardians do a simple online search.

Parents and guardians can type in their child’s name, nickname, school, hobbies, grade, or residence to determine information availability. Supervise blogs and be aware of not only what the child is posting, but what other kids are posting about the child. 9. Use tools and software that are available for monitoring of the internet such as internet filters to prevent accidental access, a Parent’s Pledge and a white list for pre-approved, child-friendly sites.

Ketchum Global Research Network conducted a Parents’ Internet Monitoring Study for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Cox Communications and in the study there were findings that over half (51%) of parents either do not have or do not know if they have software on their computer(s) that monitors where their teenager(s) go online and with whom they interact (Ketchum Global Research Network. Parents’ Internet Monitoring Study. , 2005). Remember that no filter is a substitute for the best tip listed; parental supervision.

Because the Internet plays a big part in the lives of today’s kids, it also has to be part of the lives of every parent, guardian, and educators and among adults who care about children by empowering them to help their children be safer online we can ensure that kids hear a consistent message of internet safety. The spiritual dynamics that stem from adverse online exposure are quite troubling but can be restored through God’s pure and devoted love toward His son’s and daughter’s. Helping children who have been sexually broken by this exposure can be through healing, deliverance and restoration.

Church members can equip to make the church a loving and place of a safe haven for a child. People must remember that unconditional love is what God is after and children also need that unity of compassion without fear of judgment or public disgrace. The responsibility for prevention and healing is in the homes and in the communities. By being good parents from setting boundaries and being good examples in our homes and community, we will be what God wants us to be to our children; good servants.

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