(This article is a reprint from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com,)
Over the past decade, conversations with and press releases from law enforcement have given me a very powerful overview of how on-line predator’s snare youth with fear and fakery, and what parents can do to help thwart their evil schemes. Below are some insights to consider when parenting children to learn how to safely navigate the social network.
Learning to be safe and smart on-line requires open communication between the parent and child. When the authorities are alerted (go to www.cybertipline.com to report predator activity), then there is a chance that the predator can be stopped. As soon as you or your child detect a predator attempting to connect, alert the authorities and they will investigate. Sometimes it is just one brave child and parent who bring a very humiliating situation into the light to catch a predator and liberates many others caught in the evil snare believing there is no hope to escape.
On-line predators are patient and cunning. Predators gather information from children very patiently and overtime, gain trust and intimacy that can at first mimic love and acceptance. And then this personal knowledge and intimacy is used to exploit and extort them for sexually explicit acts via videos and images on-line, and or in a hands-on experience where the child is induced to meet the predator in person. For example, adult male predators hide behind the image of a 14-year-old girl or boy in order to gain trust.
Predators are counting on a child to feel shame and guilt about things posted on-line so as to kill open communication and isolate the child from love in the home. When children become snared by the tricks of the predators, they can easily believe that there is no “returning home” for help. It is important to let your child know that no matter what has happened, if they are witnessing or experiencing a predator’s presence in their life (in any way), they will not be punished for bringing it to your attention. Encourage your children to realize that it is better to catch the predator, and that your love for them will not be diminished by any acts they have engaged in on or off-line.
Children do not want to disappoint their parents. They want to bless them. So when we give them permission ahead of time to be imperfect, to make mistakes or exercise poor judgment and stand corrected, then there can be open communication about how their childhood experiences are informing them and shaping their perspective. Then it is possible to impart your wisdom so they can learn from experience that home is the safe place where they will find answers and a measure of peace.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17
As the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner, my personal mission is to educate and inspire parents from all walks of life and social settings to realize their inherent authority to govern the home and educate the child about their own power; the personal power that comes from the spiritual resilience of your chosen faith. And so I write for Examiner.com to express the passion of my mother heart to a diverse audience.
ABOUT: Banana Moments Foundation is a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. The BMF mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all BMF proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your Donations are greatly appreciated.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.